September 16, 2006

The Seven Stages of Grief

It's been a few days since the NCTM released their Curriculum Focal Points retreating from 17 years of constructivist doctrine. Let's see how our constructivist friends (top link) are taking the news.

It is widely accepted that there are seven distinct stages in the grieving process. The seven stages of grief are:

Shock or Disbelief

"The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics issued a news release announcing their new Curriculum Focal Points. What’s this? I wondered."


"NCTM recognizes the difficulty of working with a math curriculum that covers topic areas “a mile wide and an inch deep,” and I am grateful for their acknowledgment. Rather than changing the standards, NCTM is attempting to prioritize them by focusing on areas for study at different grade levels."


"Schoenfeld maps out a middle-ground position in the process vs. skills trench war. His position would not satisfy the discovery learning purists, and he doesn’t yield to the direct instruction traditionalists.

"He warns that curricular issues can become social issues, resulting in new curricula being rejected out of hand by the public, or corrupted by teachers, if either or neither is prepared for them. While he admits the validity of a viewpoint which holds that mathematics competence is related to factual and procedural knowledge, and that this knowledge increases with study and practice, he calls this point of view naive in that it does not account for more complex dimensions of mathematical competence.

"Schoenfeld is critical of the polarized rhetoric which places discussion of the merits of process and product in an ‘either/or’ frame. He argues for the reasonable inclusion of both, recognizing that facts without understanding are meaningless, while process without skills leaves students helpless and incompetent. NCTM’s standards documents were written from the perspective of the master narratives of social mobility and democratic equality.


Yeah right.

Anger & Depression

"It bothers me, since this is supposed to be about opening a discussion, that according to an article in the New York Times, conservative critics of current instructional practices are celebrating this as 'a back-to-basics victory….and moving away from the constructivist approach some educators prefer,' There is no justification for this political rapture, because NCTM isn’t doing that." (emphasis original)

Acceptance and Hope

"NCTM’s standards documents were written from the perspective of the master narratives of social mobility and democratic equality. Perhaps this new move is an effort to give some ground to the social efficiency camp, but it shouldn’t be seen as a retreat. If anything, it’s a healthy attempt to reach consensus on how we can get 'there' from 'here'."

Most people will see some if not all of the seven stages of grief in themselves as they grieve.

Looks like grieving to me.


Anonymous said...


KDeRosa said...


Miguel Guhlin (@mGuhlin) said...

So, what's your opinion of Math Investigations? Is this a worthwhile program?

ignorant of math,

KDeRosa said...

Do you mean TERC investigations in number, data, and space?