Thursday, December 4, 2008

Broken At the State Level

From one of my favorite blogs: A real math teacher from Texas writes.....

Posted July 2008
Now I see that "math wars" are springing up again and sadly now another group of students is suffering and struggling in places such as Florida and Missouri.

And now another group of college professors is speaking out against what they see happening.The "fuzzy math authors" do not give up so easily. They have their fingers in their ears and masks over their eyes. They refuse to believe that their precious, new math curricula are the cause because after all, "research shows" that students need to learn by discovering and investigating, that students remember best what they figure out on their own without any interference from the teacher, that students need to know they are valued.

In a Missourian article entitled "Math Professors Seek Change in State's K-12 Math Curriculum", college professors are quoted expressing their concerns with the state's math standards and the curriculum. Below is a quote from Missouri University math professor Adam Helfer:
"One of the most painful things for me as a math professor at Mizzou is to work with students who have native ability in math but are not going to be able to capitalize on it because their K-12 preparation is inadequate. There is just nothing that can be done at the college level to make up for this -- it's far too late."

Another MU math professor, Alex Koldobsky, is also quoted in the article:
"I have been teaching Calculus I for the last few years and I clearly see the deterioration of computational and algebraic skills of incoming freshmen. Instead of working on the concepts of calculus, the majority of the students have to think for a long time about every elementary arithmetic and algebraic step, which at this point have to be automatic for them."

More than 50 math professors signed the letter, critical of the "student centered focus" which dominates the Missouri K-12 standards -- which repeatedly prescribes that students 'explore', 'investigate', 'develop models', and 'conduct experiments'.
Endorsement signatures for the letter

Go here to read the entire article, and while reading it, take the time to go to the side link to the 9-page letter (5 pages of which are signatures of college professors) dated May 5, 2008, sent to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

If you live in the state of Missouri your children may be affected by the weak standards and "fuzzy math" curriculum. If you are in other states, you need to be vigilant to what is being taught in your state. This is not going away.
If we have anything to do with it..the fuzzy math part will be gone from our school as the core! Our children should be learning their basic facts so that when they get to college they can engage in the courses the choose. Use fuzzy math, if we must , only as a supplement to be used at the discretion of the teachers.

Take a look on the above link and realize that over 50 of our state's most distinguished mathematicians do not believe in our Missouri standards for math. We need to make our voices heard not only to our school district, but to our politicians at the state level.