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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Constructivist Math…

No calls to sub this week so I have time to see what else is going on out there in the blog-o-sphere.

Elementary grade school math instruction has been pretty basic since the invention of the one room school house and the schoolmarm.

Teaching addition, subtraction, multiplication and long division has been the same for at least the last couple hundred years (…that I know of)

I have, on occasion, questioned the value of teaching estimates in 2nd grade math and when I asked other teachers the “Why” question, the response is: “It’s in the state mandated curriculum. We don’t have a choice”. Meaning that teachers have no leeway in what and how certain subjects are taught.

While cruising the posts of blogger NYC Educator, I came across something even more alarming than teaching estimates.

Take a look at what some doofus-butt “brilliant” educators are pushing to replace the “old way” of teaching math for the 4th and 5th grade levels in favor of constructivist-based math programs such as TERC (pronounced "turk") Investigations or Everyday Mathematics.

Watch the video here:

(Warning! It’s 15+mins in length. Dial-up readers may want to wait till you have access to a faster connection)

Math Education: An Inconvenient Truth

Some points I came away with:
  • When problems get cumbersome, just reach for the calculator.
  • Adults unfamiliar with the methods can’t help with homework. (…and neither can substitute teachers)
  • Much more likely to make mistakes and get wrong answers.

Now what would happen if some school district or the state of California mandated a switch to this “improved method” of teaching math? What will the teacher have to say when asked why my granddaughter can’t divide 24 by 6 without a calculator?

I’ve already heard the answer: “It’s in the state mandated curriculum. We don’t have a choice”

While I think there IS value in the TERC and other constructivist methods as an additional way to give H.S. or college students a different way to look at problem solving, I see no value in using it as a replacement for the tried and true basic math algorithm skills learned at the elementary school level.

It’s sad to say but parents would be well advised to skim the text books, at least at the elementary school level, your kids will be using each year to monitor how proficient or deficient your kid might be at the end of the schooling program.


Anonymous said...

I wish there were some way to monitor how well the local Kumon classes are doing where they run garbage programs like "Everyday Mathematics."

True story, a 10 year old once told me "The problem with discovery math is you never know what you are supposed to discover."w

KauaiMark said...

Kids can be very insightful...