November 27, 2006

NCTM gets pounded

I'm busy schlepping the kids around Epcot today, so I didn't get a chance to fully read this detailed commentary criticizing the NCTM, Why Do Supporters of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Insist Only They Are Right?

I maintain there is mounting evidence in the NCTM "reformed" mathematics curriculum of the following: inaccurate views based on poor research, reverse discrimination (against white males), stereo-typed learning styles that have helped increase achievement gaps for minorities, opaque and convoluted lessons about mathematical procedures, and a disrespect for the historical importance of texts that represent the rich concepts and principles of mathematics.

I am also baffled as to why anyone still listens to what the NCTM has to say. It's not like what they've said in the past has proven to be successful.

2 comments:

Barry Garelick said...

NCTM has positioned itself almost like Dr. Freud when he presented his theories of psychoanalysis: If you disagree with me, that is because of your illness.

Except in Dr. Freud's case, he knew a bit more about what he was talking about than does NCTM.

They start with a premise that the old way of doing math didn't work, even though as imperfect as it may have been, it worked for many many people, some of whom became prominent mathematicians. But people who didn't learn math well for whatever reasons seem to like the sound of that. So they stand in line to hear more.

For people who believe that learning skills to solve low level problems prepares students for a life of mediocrity, math programs that do so are disadvantaging minorities. In "Making Mathematics Work for All Children: Issues of Standards, Testing, and Equaity, by Alan Schoenfeld, an adherent of NCTM's philosophy, he sees the future in "reform math" (i.e., math that embraces NCTM's vision), and warns "As long as the public continues to believe in the value and meaningfulness of traditional skills-based tests, reform faces a major uphill battle." He urges that parents be made to understand that students need to learn problem solving, reasoning and communication. He goes on in his rant: "One has to counteract the very common misunderstanding that in mathematics students have to master skills before using them for applications and problem solving. People who believe this will focus first on skills, thinking that applications and problems can come later. The result is the traditional curriculum (and traditional skills-oriented assessments). An underlying assumption of reform is that students can develop mastery of skills through problem solving."

It is through NCTM's vision and the spreading of the gospel through its apostles that people have come to believe that there is an easier path to a better life by starting at the top instead of the bottom.

Why WOULDN'T there be a huge following of such a promise?

ShortWoman said...

"As long as the public continues to believe in the value and meaningfulness of traditional skills-based tests, reform faces a major uphill battle."

I'm sorry, if you don't have math skills you don't know math. Idiots like this are why I'm paying for Kumon.