Thursday, June 26, 2008

The "Real" Contest

Have you ever gotten into a "battle" only to find the opponent has changed and redefined all of the terms?

Have you noticed that the publishers often try to change the focus of the disagreements brought by parents. Or they change definitions and throw out new "standards" so that you and I may not even know what the real issues are.

As a lowly intermediate, elementary school math teacher, I often feel that I do not have the qualifications to step up and confront more "learned" people. I think that no one would even give me any time. However, if you won't listen to me, will you at least hear the words of math professors, who know far more than I, and who strongly oppose the teaching of the "fuzzy math"??

A few years ago when I first became aware of the "math wars" that had occurred, and were still occurring, all across the country, I was most impressed by the pleas of professors to rectify and rewrite curricula, professors such as Dr. Wayne Bishop, Dr. James Milgram, Dr. Wu, Dr. Bas Braams, and many more.

Below are a few quotes from Ralph A. Raimi, professor emeritus of mathematics of the University of Rochester, describing the "real contest" in this "math wars" saga and the folly of expecting children to "discover" formulas and procedures on their own.

"But there is a contest, a serious one, and not the one suggested by catch phrases handed out by the publishers of the reform programs. It is not a contest between rote-memorization of meaningless symbols and deep understanding of problem-solving strategies. . . "

"The real contest in Penfield - and hundreds of other school districts across the country - is between mathematics and non-mathematics, between academic content and childish time-wasting, between what children can learn and what the present Penfield curriculum is pretending to have them "develop." A good mathematics program takes advantage of the mathematical discoveries of thousands of years of civilized effort, while Penfield has them counting with sticks, starting history all over again."

And the following from Raimi is scripted so purely and simply, so precisely and beautifully and is certainly worthy of notice. I'll even go so far as to say it is worthy of putting to memory.

"The systems of decimal and fraction notation are marvels of compressed information, intellectual advances that Euclid did not have available. Arithmetic is not trivial mathematics, and it certainly will not be "discovered" by school children. It must be taught and practiced."

The entire article, entitled "Why American Kids Aren't Learning Math," may be found here


Anonymous said...

• As Dr. David Klein points out: “The maths wars are unlikely to end until programmes espoused by progressives incorporate the intellectual content demanded by parents of school children and mathematicians.”

• South Carolina: Everyday Math Bottoms out at Beaufort
• Illinois:
• Connecticut:
• New Jersey - Recall Everyday Math Long Valley
New Jersey Long Valley NJ recall Everyday Math
New Jersey Ridgewood:
New Jersey, Bridgewater-Raritan Parents Math Forum
• Missouri Columbia district back to traditional Math
• Washington State Math Mess- a case against constructivist Math
Washington State: Math Education and Inconvenient Truth (Video)
Washington State A University View:
Seattle school turns to Singapore Math
• Utah turning to the Far East

• Virginia: Stafford County - Everyday Math is dumbing down our children 2008
Virginia: Prince William County, Arlington County, Fairfax, Loudoun, Howard
Parents Rise against Everyday Math:
Virginia Prince William County: Parents take Action (2008)
• Texas:
Texas Rejects Everyday Math in part
Educational Research Analysts rate Everyday Math worst.
• California Rejects Everyday Math in part.
Cognitive Child Abuse in Our Math Classrooms By C. Bradley Thompson
• New York
New York and
New York - Fuzzy Math is not cuddly
• Massachusetts:
• Math Wars around the country:
• Humor: Peaceful movement to disarm Fuzzy Math

• 600 schools in the US have shifted to Singapore Math