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Home » Joshua Katz: Toxic Culture of Education at TEDxUniversityofAkron (Full Transcript)

Joshua Katz: Toxic Culture of Education at TEDxUniversityofAkron (Full Transcript)

Joshua Katz at TEDxUniversityofAkron

Here is the full transcript of math teacher Joshua Katz’s TEDx Talk: Toxic Culture of Education at TEDxUniversityofAkron conference. 

Joshua Katz – Math teacher

Everyone is a genius, but, if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it’s stupid. There I was working with a student, Natalie, on solving equations.

She had to multiply 2 x 9, and got stuck. This happens all the time, I’m used to it, but I decided to go for the teaching moment. All she had to do is count by twos nine times. Now, she tried and failed four different times, on her fingers, on paper, in English and Spanish 2? 4? 8? 12? Natalie was 16 years old and in the 9th grade, and she’s not alone not by a long shot.

I teach at a high school with a student population of near 3,000. It’s one of 30,000 high schools across the US, so you have to imagine how many Natalies are out there.

Now, I’ve seen the best of our school system and I can say that our best students can compete with the best students from around the world. In fact, when looking at the PISA results, that compares our students to other countries, we currently rank in the 20s. Yet, if we disaggregate our results by district poverty level and compare the US District to those top countries by poverty rates, it is clear that our students are at the top.

But our best students are only a small percentage of the overall population even in the honors classes. And then, what about the Natalies? I specialize in teaching algebra to the bottom 25% of high school students and I work mostly with those students.

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