Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Odds and Evens - Week of 2-18-08

  • New Mystery Mathematician has been posted in the sidebar! Please DO NOT submit your answer as a comment to this post! simply email me at "dmarain AT GeeMail dot com'
  • Only a few days left to vote in the MathNotations survey in the sidebar regarding your preference for how multidigit multiplication should be taught. The results thus far are interesting, but I'll say more about this when the polls close. No early exit poll results at this time!
  • As previewed several weeks ago, I've just received the Mimio equipment for making Math Casts or mini video math lessons. I'm learning how to use it - my first few attempts are fairly crude - and I hope to post one of these in a few days. I may also upload it to You Tube. Of course it won't get as many views as "An Inconvenient Truth!" Here is a link to the company to give you some background before I post a more detailed discussion of this technology.
  • The following is the body of an email I sent to a close personal friend in the math blogosphere in response to an article this week in the Washington Post (Parents Rise Up Against A New Approach to Math). This article is getting lots of attention among other math bloggers as well, particularly over at KTM. I feel like I am reiterating the same position I have stated on this blog dozens of times, but the message still is not being heard by those making decisions about our children. I will never give up, no matter how many times I am ignored or criticized:

"There is a grassroots revolution among parents going on right now, but the issue is far from black and white. If most teachers felt comfortable blending teaching procedurally with teaching for comprehension and concept, we'd be moving in the right direction in my opinion. BUT curricula generally take an 'all-or-nothing' approach.

Centrists such as myself are looked on as hypocrites or 'waffling'. Teachers need a text that combines the best of both approaches, balancing understanding with practice and repetition. WHY IS THIS SO DIFFICULT FOR EVERYONE TO GRASP?"


Anonymous said...

In response to the contents of your e-mail, I would take a traditional text and the right/ability to bring in/blend in more engaging content.

The more constructivist texts I find unacceptable, since by scrambling the order they make it impossible to bring in traditional content, except in disconnected bits and pieces.


Dave Marain said...

There you go being logical again and making sense. Will you never learn!!

I really shouldn't be glib about a situation that will probably get worse before it gets better.

BTW, I promoted your upcoming edition of the Carnival of Math at the bottom of my latest post (entitled "Thank you..."). Good luck with that - I hope to be able to submit a couple of posts.

Anonymous said...

I've spent a few days poring over old arithmetic and algebra texts from the 1800s and it seems that the same issues raged back then as well. You see books with endless ciphering problems or you see books that are "definition/theorem/proof" that are over the top when it comes to abstaction and generalization and offering almost no practice, but you don't see anything in between.

If the histories of math ed are to believed then teachers and mathematicians complained just as vociferously back then as they do today.

Sub sole nihil novi est.

Dave Marain said...

Yes, Myrtle, but taking steps backwards and forwards can still lead to 'net' progress! And there is something new under the sun - the math blogosphere didn't exist back then to allow for more honest open dialogue. There is always the possibility that powerful ideas reaching thousands of people can re-shape thinking.

Do you believe, as I do, that a balance of reform and tradition is the best direction for our children? I believe there is a 'silent majority' out there who feels this way - they need to be heard to stop this insanity. Blogs may not drive this change but they may point the way! Blogs like yours and others are helping to inform parents so they can better understand the nature of the debate and decide what is really best for their children. That's what the web is really all about -- exchange of ideas on a scale never before imagined and that is definitely new under the sun!