"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Monday, March 28, 2016

Reasonableness

Reasonableness means governed by or being in accordance with reason or sound thinking. That is according to the American Heritage Dictionary. Unfortunately, much of our thinking often neglect data and observations. In other words, our thinking is frequently guided by unfounded biases and even prejudices. It is therefore important that we understand and examine the assumptions we make.

A photo uploaded on imgur has gone viral:


The question above reads "Reasonableness: Marty ate 4/6 of his pizza and Luis ate 5/6 of his pizza. Marty ate more pizza than Luis. How is that possible?"

And the student answers, "Marty's pizza is bigger than Luis's pizza." The grader marks this answer wrong and writes, "That is not possible because 5/6 is greater than 4/6 so Luis ate more."

This is actually a moment when we need to examine the assumptions we are making. The grader obviously assumes that the pizzas are of the same size. The student ignores this assumption since this is not mentioned anywhere in the question. 5/6 is indeed larger than 4/6 but with a different assumption like Marty's pizza being at least 25 percent larger than Luis' the equation becomes different. At Domino's Pizza, a large pizza (14") is about twice as large as a small pizza (10"). 

Proponents of DepEd's K to 12 are quick to point out that 12 is greater than 10. Jumping to the conclusion that the additional years mean a better basic education makes the assumption that more years translate to an improved curriculum. We hold so many assumptions while we think and that is why it is necessary that we take time to examine these assumptions regularly. 

A recent article published in the Journal of Pediatrics illustrates an example where we really need to step back and reexamine how we make judgments. The paper, Influence of Relative Age on Diagnosis and Treatment of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Taiwanese Children, summarizes its findings with the following figure:

Above copied from

Chen, Mu-Hong et al.,Influence of Relative Age on Diagnosis and Treatment of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Taiwanese Children, The Journal of Pediatrics, article in press, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpeds.2016.02.012
The fraction of children born in the month of August diagnosed with ADHD is almost twice those who are born in the month of September. The cutoff birth date for school entry in Taiwan is August 31. Thus, children born in August are usually the youngest members in their class. The typical correlation between gender and ADHD is also seen, boys are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls. The fact that incidences of ADHD diagnosis and medication are high for younger boys and girls means that these children exhibit behaviors in class that warrant examination by a pediatrician for ADHD. 

What are our assumptions in basic education? Do we expect children to fit in the curriculum we assign or do we design the curriculum to fit the needs of the children?




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