In the EM promo (which I've included below) it looks like they've picked up on the criticisms of EM and are now using it in their advertising. To wit: "There's nothing fuzzy about it".

Excuse me? Nothing fuzzy aboout it? Well, maybe not as fuzzy as TERC, but still... Yes, a casual reading might reveal what look like good problems, but you wouldn't know from looking at the workbook that they don't teach the standard algorithms, that a particular page of problems may represent the last time such types of problems are seen that year, that there are far less computational problems in EM than in the highly disdained "traditional" textbooks, and the computational problems that are there do not cover a lot of 2-digit or 3-digit multiplication. Not to mention that calculators are allowed fairly often.

The sentence that really got to me was "Everyday Mathematics is better than traditional, textbook-centered programs that produced generations of students who hated math." While some of the traditional text books of the 50's and 60's had their bad points, I think this statement is over-generalized and extremely misleading. The textbook-centered programs of yore also produced generations of students who liked math, were good at it, and understood the underlying concepts. And ironically, many if not all of the students who hated math as a result of those "traditional textbook-centered programs" are probably more proficient in the basic skills than those who have received the EM treatment without benefit of Kumon, or outside help.

Of course, EM's solutioon to the "textbook-centered" approach is to do away with a textbook. Students only have workbooks. (Oh, and a reference manual. Which does have a good section on how to use a calculator). The EM promoters' disdain for such "scripted" approaches is pure hypocrisy, since EM

*does*have a particular script. Students and parents can't see it, but it's contained in the teacher's manual and provides the outline of daily lessons. Not very good, mind you, but still, there is a plan there which parents and students do not get the benefit of seeing--except in the "family letters" (some in very poor Spanish as has been discussed here) that students bring home with them and which explain what they will be learning in a particular unit. Every unit is a hodge podge of topics, nested inside some main topic. There is no concentrated focus on any one topic that allows any kind of mastery learning. But the EM promoters have an answer for that one as well: I

"Content is taught in a repeated fashion, beginning with concrete experiences to which students can relate. Research shows that students learn best when new topics are presented at a brisk pace, with multiple exposures over time, and with frequent opportunities for review and practice. The sequence of instruction in the Everyday Mathematics curriculum has been carefully mapped out to optimize these conditions for learning and retaining knowledge."

They didn't bother to talk about what research it was that showed this, but there is another module on their "research base". Much of their research was conducted by William Carroll, who has been on the EM/U of Chicago payroll for some time. Seems to me the National Math Panel's final report seemed to address EM's approach head on when they said:

“A focused, coherent progression of mathematics learning, with an emphasis on proficiency with key topics, should become the norm in elementary and middle school mathematics curricula. Any approach that continually revisits topics year after year without closure is to be avoided.”Anyway, here's the promo. Read and weep.

**How Everyday Mathematics Offers a Better Approach to Mathematics Mastery**

There’s nothing fuzzy about it. Everyday Mathematics brings more clarity and rigor to math instruction, so students understand and appreciate the role of mathematics in daily life. Everyday Mathematics, a comprehensive Pre-K-6 mathematics curriculum, not only embraces traditional goals of math education, but also sets out to accomplish two ambitious goals for the 21st century:

• To substantially raise expectations regarding the amount and range of math that students

learn.

• To support teachers and students with the materials necessary to enable students to meet

these higher expectations.

To provide more rigorous, balanced instruction, Everyday Mathematics:

• Emphasizes conceptual understanding while building mastery of basic skills.

• Explores a broad mathematics spectrum, not just basic arithmetic.

• Is based on how students learn and what they’re interested in while preparing them for their

future mathematical needs.

*Changing the Way We Teach Math*

The accelerating demand for competence and problem-solving agility in mathematics requires

improved methods for teaching math in the classroom. Teachers are no longer preparing students for a lifetime of pencil-and-paper calculations, but for future careers that demand a true understanding of how mathematics works at much higher levels.

Everyday Mathematics is better than traditional, textbook-centered programs that produced generations of students who hated math. It is consistent with the ways students actually learn math – building understanding over time – first through informal exposure, then through more formal and directed instruction.

Content is taught in a repeated fashion, beginning with concrete experiences to which students can relate. Research shows that students learn best when new topics are presented at a brisk ace, with multiple exposures over time, and with frequent opportunities for review and practice. The sequence of instruction in the Everyday Mathematics curriculum has been carefully mapped out to optimize these conditions for learning and retaining knowledge.

## 40 comments:

higher-level dialogue to solve problems!!!

woo hoo!!

My kids are going to meet that benchmark!

It's hard for the teachers. I wouldn't say that it's an easy program. It's a tough program. But when you see the success with the children, that's why we're in teaching. We're not here to make our jobs easier. We're here for them to be successful.hmm....so it's not an easy program FOR THE TEACHERS, and the program ASSUMES PARENT "INVOLVEMENT," so --- how does that work, folks?

oh, wait

That's what KUMON is for

to support the parents

Here we have an entire web site apparently devoted to selling people "literature" they can "pair" with Everyday Math:

http://www.booksource.com/emath.aspx?gclid=CM3zt4TN4JQCFQOuFQodaE5TRA

The Booksource

They advertise on Science Daily.

"My kids are going to meet that benchmark" is a line in the promo.

As is "higher-level dialogue to solve problems."

HOMESCHOOLING

AWAY!Everyday Mathematics is better than traditional, textbook-centered programs that produced generations of students who hated math.As opposed to modern-day non-textbook-centered programs that are producing generations of students who hate math.

You left out: "Sound of vomiting"

Sound of v.

BTW, is "higher level dialogue" different than "denotational" speaking?

Everyday Mathematics is better than traditional, textbook-centered programs that produced generations of students who hated math.Catherine notes: As opposed to modern-day non-textbook-centered programs that are producing generations of students who hate math.

--And might I add to Catherine's observation, that the many of this generation's students who hate math are precisely those who are or would have been good enough at it to pursue-and enjoy!-mathematical careers.

I have often wondered: has anyone actually asked today's kids whether they "love" or "hate" math or is the EM crowd just assuming this lovefest?

How 'bout some research on that?

Nobody EVER asks kids whether they're having fun with math or anything else.

It's another insane Inputs assumption.

We've given them a Project, so they're having fun and taking ownership of their learning.

Remember C's line when he was still so young?

What was it...."They don't understand. When they make math fun, it's more boring."

I think that was it.

Coerced fun isn't fun.

This is key.

Higher level dialogue is WAY better than denotational speaking.

Because it's high.

Denotational speaking is low.

sound of v!

Do you guys think there are (lots of) kids being put off math for good because of these curricula?

Do you guys think there are (lots of) kids being put off math for good because of these curricula?YES. Absolutely.

My daughter was introduced to EM for the first time in fourth grade due to an out of state move. Her previous school accelerated and had a more traditional approach to math. She was/is a whiz. She had also done Kumon for a few years and was well beyond grade level. EM was just about the end of her. It's not that she didn't get it, but she

didn't get it. In other words, she HATED it. It never followed through with any one concept and would leave her with partial knowledge of a concept and then move on to something else. We want children to develop longer attention spans and then we innundate them with quick flashes of random math concepts and expect them to like it? It was awful. Math, for the very first time ever, brought her to tears.Everyday Math brought me to tears as well. This was not because it wasn't the way I was taught, either. I went out and purchased the $25 reference book and made sure I understood how to do the lattice method, partial products and whatever else they were doing. It was a waste of my daughters time, my time, and it ended up changing our lives.

Everyday Math was life altering. It prompted me to consider homeschooling, such was my discontent with the program. I'm happy to report we're never looking back. Ever.

It's not that she didn't get it, but she didn't get it. In other words, she HATED it. It never followed through with any one concept and would leave her with partial knowledge of a concept and then move on to something else.oh boy

that is REALLY upsetting

of course, the same thing has happened around here, though not due to EM

C was in the far-too-accelerated math track with ineffective teaching for two years, and as a result we all see him as not-talented in math.

I have, many times, told Ed (& me) that we simply don't know what his natural level of math ability is...all we know is that there are around 10 kids in the track who are significantly more talented. (iirc, that's the number his teacher told me - the number of kids who were just sailing through, getting everything.)

When the only thing you know about your kid's natural ability is that he's not highly gifted, you don't know much ---- and yet you feel & act as if you do.

I'm hoping that the math teaching at the new school will be good enough that he'll do well AND we'll all develop a different perception of his abilities.

otoh, I get the sense that the new school doesn't have the same assumptions about "the naturals" that my school does. They really do seem to push AND SUPPORT every kid to reach his potential

In that atmosphere, it may not matter what any of us thinks about C's biology

that would be best of all

Stigler & the Math Panel are right: Americans are far too oriented towards biology in explanations of high achievement

Everyday Math was life altering. It prompted me to consider homeschooling, such was my discontent with the program. I'm happy to report we're never looking back. Ever.gosh --- we should start a new feature -- we should invite people to tell us their "breaking point" stories

what was it that put you on the path to homeschooling / private / parochial school (it was math for me, too, but not constructivist math)

what was it that made you finally do it?

I wish to heck I'd kept a journal --- I'm pretty sure that the straw that broke the camel's back for me was the tenure presentation at a board meeting last fall.

--And might I add to Catherine's observation, that the many of this generation's students who hate math are precisely those who are or would have been good enough at it to pursue-and enjoy!-mathematical careers.And my point being that students were good enough at it to pursue and enjoy math careers when taught with the traditional textbook-centered approach--even those textbooks held in disdain by those at EM.

I had the same problem with my daughter and ended up tutoring her using Singapore math. She had the good fortune to have good 7th and 8th grade math teachers which also helped make up for the knowledge deficit.

I once wrote a set of talking points for use by myself and others in arguing against EM at the school and district level. If I ever have time, I will update them to include the NMAP recommendations but here they are in their original form, FWIW.

I. General concerns about the content, pacing and teaching methods used

Content:

--standard arithmetic “algorithms” (for the operations +, -, x, /) for are de-emphasized or, in some instances, not taught

--preferred algorithms are slow, cumbersome and unnecessarily complex

--long division (as we know it) is not believed to be important and is not taught

--little concern for pen and paper fluency or automatic recall of facts

--parents do not have access to instructional materials making it difficult to help their children or assess progress

--well-developed reading skills (both parent and student) are required for success, putting English Language learners (and others) at a disadvantage in the one subject in which they might otherwise be immediately able to excel

--children do not learn the “common currency” of standard math vocabulary and arithmetic algorithms, causing difficulty in later math classes and impeding mathematical communication

--minimal emphasis on fluency with decimal calculations, lowest common denominator, operations with fractions, other pre-algebra concepts

Pacing:

--spiral/recursive philosophy manifested in topic changes every few days

--frequent topic changes postpone mastery of topics

--frequent topic changes discourage focused attention and effort

--infrequent expectation of mastery reduces incentives to learn and excel

--children who take pride in mastery of topic are frustrated

Teaching methods:

--overemphasis on “constructivist” teaching methodologies: students discover or invent their own problems and solutions; reduced emphasis on teachers for presenting the material or concepts; works with only some students

--heavy reliance on group activities, which also works with only some students

--math as a “game” depreciates the value of serious study/focus/persistence

--difficult to assess progress of “developing” skills

--testing methods/outcome measures not clearly defined within this curriculum

--family involvement is an important feature of the curriculum, which works against children who lack involved adults in their lives and thereby perpetuates the achievement gap

--difficult to accomodate gifted/talented students, since pre-testing, curriculum compaction and acceleration are difficult or impossible; "enrichment" is the only option and is not a meaningful accommodation

--unsuited to GT kids because of the constant review cycle and the fragmented, cursory introduction of new topics, which can produce frustration and/or boredom

"The sequence of instruction in the Everyday Mathematics curriculum has been carefully mapped out to optimize these conditions for learning and retaining knowledge."

Optimized? How? Where are the optimization studies? What were the variables? This is a blatant lie. The biggest problem with EM is that they barely cover a topic before they move on. A friend of mine had three kids in different grades who were all covering the same material in EM.

Remember the movie Groundhog Day? That's what EM is. Repeated partial learning. Every day is the first day of school. They pretend to move on to new material, but that's when they hit you with random Math Boxes right in the middle of a new topic that they race through.

EM is designed to allow kids to move at their own speed. Teachers don't have to take responsibility for learning because it's part of the package. Kids will see the material again, and again, and again. It would be one thing if the repetition was used to reinforce previously learned skills. It isn't, the repetition is to achieve first time mastery.

Since each child will have his or her own issues and misunderstandings, there is no way for a fifth or sixth grade teacher to diagnose and deal with them all. So kids are left to do it all by themselves. It doesn't happen. Any improvement in test scores with EM only prove that the curriculum was even worse before, and I'm not talking about 30-40 years ago. Our school went from the ultra-fuzzy MathLand of 10 years ago to EM. How could scores not improve?

They don't like drill and kill. They still claim that mastery is good. They allow kids to achieve mastery at their own speed. This is not about higher level understanding. This is not about rigor. This is about low ABSOLUTE expectations.

Ever looked at an Everyday Math Student Math journal? (I know Steve has!). They do not indicate what grade they are for. Only if you happen to know what color each year is supposed to have, can you tell.

If you pick one up, you cannot tell by the content what grade it is for. Best you can do is peg it to a +/- 1 or 2 grade range.

What does that tell you?

This is a trick I learned from someone who once challenged me by putting all three years of fuzzy middle school math books on a table, open, and dared me to put them in order of 6th, 7th and 8th grade. It was pretty much impossible.

"Sound of vomiting"

OK Barry, I sincerely want to understand what's going on here.

Do they really believe this stuff? Do they understand the difference between spiraling to achieve mastery versus spiraling on top of mastery? Don't they have deep down doubts when they push higher order thinking and then hear serious objections from mathematicians and engineers? They should.

The best I can figure (from my direct experience) is that they can only base their judgment on what they know, and what they know is not math. They only know ed school thought. They can't believe that so many people can be so wrong. What bothers me the most is that they are so unwilling to understand the criticism.

This is not just an argument over what and how to teach. It's has to do with their belief that they can force their opinions on everyone else. I find that astounding.

Steve,

I've worked with marketing people in consulting firms and was always amazed at one particular characteristic that made them successful: They really believed whatever came out of their mouths at a given moment. They were like actors.

From what I've seen of the professors at ed school, yes, many really do believe this crap. It's zealotry at its worst. I heard one professor in an ed psych class I took tell a student that the traditional direct instruction type teaching was effective for short term, but subsequent testing over the years showed the students didn't retain or understand the material as well as those who learned via discovery. They believe the research. And when test scores and performance don't support their theories they rest on the convenient excuse that the particular tests and activities are not "authentic".

If you point to the declining number of US born graduates in engineering, science and math, they will say of the ones educated via reform methods that "they could do it if they wanted, but they just don't choose to."

In the last ed school class I took, Advanced Math Teaching Methods, we had to give presentations of articles of our choosing on math ed. One student reported on an article written by Stanley Ocken, a mathematician from CUNY, and a math warrior. The article was against fuzzy math. The woman giving the presentation had a PhD in math. She was confused about all the arguments and presented the article in an honestly objective fashion--she really wanted to see what the rest of the class had to say about Ocken's objections.

The teacher (who herself has a masters in math from a good school, but also a PhD in education) was critical of Ocken's objections. She said she wished people would just "get off" the argument about the importance of long division. She didn't believe it. She argued as "evidence" how math education has been failing for years (the "traditional math doesn't work" gambit). She was relatively low key but this is one time I saw her worked up.

Other students sympathetic to her arguments (and yes, there were a few, and all of the students in class had a math, science or engineering background) said that Ocken, being a college professor, is out of touch with what goes on in classrooms and how 12 year olds learn.

The presenter questioned this, and said that he was reporting on the lack of skills he was seeing in freshman calculus--didn't that count for something?

The teacher wasn't impressed and said that she wasn't going to be convinced with arguments from someone named Stanley Ocken, PhD, mathematics--emphasis on the PhD, mathematics, said in a sneering, mocking fashion.

Long answer, Steve, but yes, these people really believe they are right and the mathematicians don't know what they are saying. Part of it is defense. If they believe them, the structure upon which they are building their careers collapse. They need to sustain their illusion; they need to believe everything that comes out of their mouths. They need to sell to stay alive.

(The teacher also gave a rather sneering review of the National Math Panel's report as well, when that came out.)

Andy Isaacs, one of the prime movers behind EM, believes everyone is wrong. He reads the blogs and the forums, however, so he is savvy on what people are saying. The promo I reproduced is remarkable for the accuracy of the criticisms that have been levied to the point that it actually says: "There's nothing fuzzy about it."

Couple this zealotry with marketers from The Wright Group (which publishes EM), and you have what you see. The force of advertising foisted on people, many of whom want to believe what they are hearing. If it doesn't work, well, the teachers are bad, they need professional development. Or the tests are bad; we need authentic testing. The world is bad. Your kids need us. Your kids need EM.

Cha ching.

If it doesn't work, well, the teachers are bad, they need professional development. Or the tests are bad; we need authentic testing. The world is bad. Your kids need us. Your kids need EM.I would add, “the kids and their parents are bad”. The finger pointing goes on and on.

I would add, “the kids and their parents are bad”. The finger pointing goes on and on.Yes, how could I forget? When I complained about EM to our school board representative, she promptly called the principal of my daughter's school, and he promptly called me. He was civil, but clearly upset. When he saw my wife a few days later he told her "I thought we were friends."

An easy way to show the importance of long division is with a simple problem: Suppose it is 12 o'clock and I want to know what time the clock will show 100 hours later. So I divide 100 by 12 with long division and note the remainder 4. It will be 4 o'clock 100 hours from now.

I need the remainder to solve all kinds of problems and I'm not going to get it with a calculator. (100/12 in a calculator gives me 8.333---)

ari-free

Stanley is a favorite of mine.

It's interesting how your teacher saw only what she wanted to see and how she jumped on long division. But it's not just long division. You can base the whole argument against EM on the fact that it doesn't do what it says it does. I thought about this kind of approach; showing how EM just doesn't work. Kids don't achieve mastery. There is too much material. There is no real discovery. And you still have the same problems as with traditional math in that teachers don't ensure that learning gets done. It's just that EM has a very fuzzy idea of success and makes this OK.

I don't have problems understanding how and why EM markets itself the way it does. That's what companies do. I do have problems with schools that swallow this hook, line, and sinker. At best, what I've seen is that shcools will supplement EM. This usually means spending more time ensuring mastery and less time covering the material in the workbooks. That's why my son's fifth grade teacher didn't get to 35 percent of the material. So, supplementing means ignoring the basic premise of EM. You can't really add more to EM because there is not enough time.

"If they believe them, the structure upon which they are building their careers collapse."

I've mentioned this too. It's a turf issue. Schools would rather supplement (?) EM rather than switch to something that doesn't need supplementing. At my son's old school, the head of curriculum liked Singapore Math, but, well, "EM is better for our kids."

I agree that it is important to teach long division, but I will point out that it is not hard to find the remainder with a calculator. You just subtract off the integer part from the quotient, and then multiply by the divisor.

Using ari's example: 100/12 = 8.333; 8.333 - 8 = 0.333; 12 * 0.333 = 4; so the quotient is 12 and the remainder is 4.

I've worked with marketing people in consulting firms and was always amazed at one particular characteristic that made them successful: They really believed whatever came out of their mouths at a given moment.Haven't read the thread yet, but I can chime in on this observation within my own realm.

Agents

haveto believe in what they're pitching. That is an ironclad law.Every once in a while someone will run an article on all the great scripts everyone turned down -- refused to represent, refused to green light, etc.

That's irrelevant. An agent has to believe in what he's pitching; that's just the way it works.

That said, I'm sure there are plenty of exceptions, as when Tom Cruise's agent has to pitch something Tom Cruise wants to do -- that kind of thing. It doesn't change the fundamental principle: people who sell, and that includes me, have to believe what they're selling is real, whether it is or not.

Agents have to believe in what they're pitching. That is an ironclad law.I believe that can be extended to ed school professors. I have no proof of this of course. It's based on action research, which of course means it's perfectly acceptable and meets the ed school standards for research.

The problem isn't so much the sellers(EM), but the buyers (schools), who then become the sellers to the public. Then again, they aren't selling. They are telling. Parents and kids are not education consumers, they are guinea pigs. EM can say what they want, but schools don't have to buy it. Schools can say what they want, but parents have no choice.

it is not hard to find the remainder with a calculator. You just subtract off the integer part from the quotient, and then multiply by the divisor.True, but most calculator-dependent students will not be savvy enough to know how to do that, or even figure it out. Why?

Because they aren't grounded in long division.You can't really add more to EM because there is not enough time.I know a teacher who, instead of calling it Everyday Math, calls it "All Day Math".

Another point, that applies to all algorithms, is that a calculator must be at a certain minimum size, not because of technology, but because of ergonomics. Too small and you won't be able to read the screen or push the buttons without making a mistake. And what if you need a hard copy? It has to be even larger.

Most people won't want to stuff their pockets with such a beast and they will be caught off guard if they need to make a calculation. A pen is truly mightier than a calculator.

ari-free

If the ACTs and SATs for college entrance use traditional math problems, then why are we confusing our kids with Everyday Math? There are rules to math. There should be no guessing. Learn the rules and practice. Not everyone is going to be an "A" student in math, but at least they will be able to complete the problems on the ACT or SAT when the time comes.

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