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Academy Highlights | Session II, Week 3

Updated: Nov 5, 2021

Enrichment Highlight | Youth Chorus with Mrs. Yeager

I am newly assisting in Youth Chorus and have found so much joy in getting to see the thoughtful ways Mrs. Porter and Dr. Fong lead our students. Armed with her ukulele, Mrs. Porter leads our Grammar School students through classic folk songs and hymns, teaching them tune and timing. Students are eager to showcase what they are learning through solos and duets and even incorporate unique lyrical changes to these familiar songs. Using the melodic notes of her violin, Dr. Fong teaches our Upper School students hymns that have been sung through the ages, taking the time to discuss the meaning of the words held within these rich tunes. Both Mrs. Porter and Dr. Fong are very accomplished singers and musicians and have a way of inviting our students to excellence and enjoyment of song.

In Session II, our Grammar and Upper School students are filling our halls with the most beautiful carols, signaling the approach of our third annual production of The Greatest Gift. We spend our time together learning the melodies and words to these songs that so beautifully tell of the coming of Jesus. We enter into the longing of Israel in "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" and we join with the exultant worship of the angels in "Angels, We Have Heard On High." From the most familiar carol to the new-to-us carols, our students sing with passion and gusto and I personally can't wait to see it all come together for our special performance!

Upper School Highlight | Reflection on Math with Dr. Cochran

One quiet Saturday morning when I pulled out my phone to catch up on some news while drinking my coffee, I saw the article that highlighted that California will no longer require students to take Algebra and Geometry in high school. I laughed to myself, thinking it was a piece of fake news. Surely, no one in their right mind would make high school math optional. But they did. And not just in California.

In recent years, the issue of the growing gap in math achievement between low and high-performing students has gotten public attention. So far, it seems that the solution has been to lower math performance standards or eliminate higher math courses from the mandatory curriculum altogether. The California Board of Education has approved a plan to make Algebra and Geometry courses optional in high school and replaced them with a ‘data science’ course. Data science is typically a Masters- or PhD-level major that requires the completion of not only high school Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Geometry, but also courses in calculus and statistics, followed by a course in advanced statistical methods, which rely on proficiency in Python or R, the two primary programming languages of data science. How can a high school student take a class in data science after only completing a pre-algebra course?

This short-sighted approach of reducing the performance gap fails to take into account both scientific knowledge and current economic realities of life in America. Foregoing the advanced math courses in high school will hold the students behind by at least 18 months of course work compared to their peers who took the courses, because of the sequential nature of math coursework. It may also hold the students back from pursuing careers in technology and science, which are in the greatest demand and provide the greatest financial reward in the American knowledge-driven economy. Recent research also demonstrates that learning Algebra and Geometry in high school actually makes students smarter, more confident, and capable of solving complex technical problems. Upon graduation from high school students will compete with their peers not only from the United States, but from all over the world, where the math performance standards are much more rigorous than in the United States.

One of the things I love about Donum Dei is our rigorous math curriculum and our unwavering commitment to teaching children not only facts and algorithms of math, but logical reasoning and problem-solving. In my geometry class, students not only prove theorems and solve problems, but also take them apart to reason what would happen if the conditions were slightly different. That is the exact kind of reasoning used in science, engineering, design, medicine, and business. Advanced math teachers at Donum Dei challenge students’ quantitative skills and inspire them to see order and reasoning throughout God’s creation. We believe that our students who are image-bearers can learn advanced math in ways that draws them near to God who's the master of an orderly universe.

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