## February 15, 2007

### I don't understand

Rightwingprof has a great post up on the problems he sees some of his new undergraduate students struggle with due to their inadequate K-12 math educations. For all the talk we hear from educrats about teaching math with understanding, its clear that just as many students continue to come to college without the kind of understanding needed to solve college-level applied math problems as there were under the old "rote" "algorithm-based" math curriculum. Further complicating the problem is that today's students seem to be lacking in the calculation department what with the reduced emphasis on "drill and kill."

Go check it out.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of lack of preparedness:

I just gave a pre-fab (i.e., the diagnostic type) 6th grade-level test to a class of 7th graders. Soon, several of them started whining, "We need a calculator for this one!" One of the problems to which they referred was one that, ultimately, required them to estimate the the percent 23 is of 400. The other one was a circle area problem wherein they had to use 3.14 for pi. Not exactly tough ones.

Seventh graders here in NYC get to use calculators on part of their statewide test, so their classes incorporate them liberally -- to the detriment of their math skills. It's not like the calculators are absolutely necessary -- they're not figuring out an amortization schedule for pete's sake.

I'm glad I teach 6th grade: The state test does not allow calculators, so I do not feel obligated to use them in class.

Anonymous said...

I read the item yesterday and was struck by the fact that the short version is "Young people arrive in college not knowing how to calculate things, and not even knowing how to figure out what to calculate in a word problem."

About an hour and a half ago I was helping a 5th grader with two "impossible" word problems. When we were done, I turned to him and said "That's the problem with 'discovery' math, isn't it?" He replied "Yeah, you never know what you're supposed to discover."

For the record, one was the logic problem of "something doubles every day for 40 days until it fills the container. On what day is it half full?" The other involved trying to figure out how many apartments were on a floor based on some boy wandering up and down the hall looking for his friends. (Step one, explain large apartment complex to kid who has always lived in houses; step two, disregard poor use of English language and assume the boy is smart enough to walk from one end of the hall to the other....)

Tracy W said...

Whenever I try to access rightwingprof's site I get the following error message

You don't have permission to access /index.php/2007/02/13/2940/ on this server. Any ideas?

KDeRosa said...

seems to be working for me

Tracy W said...

Hmmm, still no luck on Firefox or Explorer.