Got Basic Skills Competency?
Aug 30, 2007 | 3087 views | 0 0 comments | 331 331 recommendations | email to a friend | print

By Buckley Jensen


The very mention of the word these days conjures up such a plethora of responses that I hesitate to touch it.

I have the greatest respect for those who remain in the profession with the unrealistic demands of No Child Left Behind and a bucket full of challenges that were not even on the horizon when I first stepped into the classroom in l969.

By the way, those of you who read your Salt Lake City papers last week know that more than 25 percent of Utah's recent high school seniors did not graduate with a full diploma because they failed the Basic Skills Test.

They didn't fail it just once or twice. They failed the same test five times, starting in their sophomore year. What might that percentage have been if they had had just one shot at the test as seniors?

Here is a real life example of what happens to these kids who cannot master basic skills.

I recently bought a hamburger and fries in a McDonald's in Salt Lake City. A well groomed, perky young lady enthusiastically rang up the purchase and announced I owed her $3.78.

I handed her four one dollar bills. Then I discovered three pennies in my other pocket and handed them to her. She looked at the bills, then the pennies, then at her screen which showed that she owed me 22 cents.

She became visibly agitated. I told her that I had given her the pennies so I could get a quarter back. Finally she called the manager. She was having a hard time telling him what happened so I explained the situation.

He immediately handed me a quarter along with an apology, at which point the cashier burst into tears and ran to the back of the store.

A friend of mine in California sent me the following upon my retirement from public education last year, entitled "Teaching Math in California."

Teaching Math in 1950: A logger sells a truckoad of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 80% of the sales price. What is his profit?

Teaching Math in l960: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 80% of the price, or $80. What is his profit?

Teaching Math in l970: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80. Did he make a profit?

Teaching Math in l980: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your Assignment: Underline the number 20.

Teaching Math in 1990: A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of the animals, or the preservation of our forests. He does this so he can make a profit of $20.

What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down their homes? (There are no wrong answers.)

Teaching Math in 2006: Un ranchero vende una carretera de maderapara $100. El cuesto de la produccion era $80. Cuantos tortillas se puede comprar?
Comments-icon Post a Comment
No Comments Yet
The San Juan Record welcomes comments on our stories. Please be civil, respectful, focused and humane. Postings are not edited and are the responsibility of the author. You agree not to post comments that are abusive, threatening or obscene. Postings may be removed at the discretion of