One recent morning, seven parents left their homes and jobs and drove to an administrative office here to sit through a two-hour tutorial on addition and subtraction.
They were not seeking a refresher on arithmetic, but rather a better understanding of the mathematics lessons their sons and daughters were studying in class and bringing home with them every night.
The adults from the Prince William County, Va., district, located in the suburbs of Washington, were taking part in a school-sponsored math workshop for parents—the sort of forum that has become a fixture in districts across the country. Schools and districts arrange the events to encourage parents to take an active role in their children’s math learning, as well as to answer questions and concerns about what students are being taught.
That outreach takes many forms. Some schools and districts organize family math nights, which bring students, teachers, and parents together, in the hope of making the subject less intimidating and more fun.
Other events, like the one in Prince William County reach out to parents through day, evening, or weekend workshops, and focus more specifically on math content.
The district uses an elementary math curriculum called Investigations in Number, Data, and Space [TERC] that has roused strong objections from some parents, who say it sacrifices traditional arithmetic strategies for what they see as less appealing methods for building students’ math reasoning and problem-solving ability.
One contributing factor has been a requirement by some schools that parents sign contracts to help their children with homework or take an active role in their academic work, Ms. Barber said. The introduction of new and unfamiliar math curricula, sometimes called "reform" approaches, has also compelled districts like Prince William to connect more with parents, she said.
"There's a recognition that we need to bring parents along in that way," Ms. Barber said.Parents Schooled in Learning How to Help With Math
By Sean Cavanagh
I'm pretty sure schools can't "require" parents to teach math.
But if they're going to "require" it, they better let us in on the curriculum selections.
Here's Barry's comment:
Parents are working with their children to teach them the math that is not being taught in schools. Compounding the problem is that a child still has to turn in homework, so the parent has to figure out what is going on in the classroom. Since Investigations, (and Everyday Math for that matter) do not have textbooks, if a child didn't understand that they were supposed to do, then the parent is in the dark as to how to approach the homework. This is very common in Everyday Math which would give students problems for which they had not had instruction, like 8.75/0.5. What they had learned to do in class was solve it as 875/5, and then using deduction and some "number sense", figure out where the decimal point would go in the quotient.
Such a cart before the horse approach to math education is tantamount to throwing a kid in a swimming pool and telling him or her that now would be a good time to learn some basic swim techniques.
School districts and publishers spin what's happening as "parent involvement" and isn't it just wonderful. What's really happening is parents are involved because the schools have totally abdicated their responsibility to teach math. And one can't really blame the schools: NSF funded these atrocities and their imprimatur seems to convince otherwise intelligent people that this total garbage has some merit.
And, from another satisfied customer:
The reason they are holding workshops is to try and diffuse the fury over math investigations. Our children are not learning the basics and without being able to add, they cannot get a deeper understanding.
The math department has created a massive divide in our county and destroyed our childrens math abilities at the same time; nice going.
As for the Evidence for Success brochure that they tout as research, most of those districts have dropped or are dropping MI and the rest are heavily funded title 1 districts or only have a few schools. A parent contacted every one of them.
Note that there were no comments from dissenting parents in that article; totally biased. We look forward to returning to real mathematics so we don't have to teach so much at home.