Daily Archives: September 26, 2008

The state of education in this country

Over the past couple of days I have been trying to explain the effect of doing one thing right and one thing wrong on the drop ball to some of my students. These students have been seventh grade or above, and all seem intelligent, so I had a reasonable expectation that my explanation would work.

The issue, by the way, was body position v. release point. Like most pitching coaches, I like my students to get up and over the drop ball (forward posture), and start the release as they come toward the back of the leg. I would see that sometimes they’d start the release at the right time but not get over the top. Other times they would get over the top but would release too late. Essentially what you had was a correct movement being negated by an incorrect movement, and the pitch was flat.

So, to try to explain the effect I asked several “What do you get when you add -1 and +1 together?” Quick, before you read the answer, see if you can answer it yourself. Play “Are you smarter than a seventh grader?” Look below for the answer.

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Okay, the correct answer is zero. Believe me I was no math whiz, but integers in general were pretty simple.

I think perhaps one student got the answer correct. The rest did their best to guess, but usually came up with “two,” and a couple came up with some really wild answers.

That made me wonder what is going on in the education system. By the age of 12 I would think they would’ve been exposed to integers by now. The question isn’t a hard one — positive and negative of the same number cancel each other out — and I purposely chose the number one to keep it even simpler. Yet they struggled with it.

I dunno. Maybe it was the shock of having to do a math problem in a pitching lesson. But I was surprised it seemed so difficult. Really makes me wonder what that big chunk of my tax bill is going toward. Guess I’ll just have to leave the math example in the discard pile for teaching pitching too!

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