kitchen table math, the sequel: the final word

Monday, March 8, 2010

the final word

This may be the best comment Barry has ever written.

Re: Success Adds Up for D.C. Schools' Math Program by Bill Turque
The myth that teaching algorithms and procedures deprives students of conceptual understanding is as prevalent as the myth that saltpeter quells sexual appetite and is put into prisoner's food. Procedural fluency leads to conceptual understanding. Procedures are not taught in isolation and even a sidelong glance at math textbooks used in the 50's and 60's (an era that was supposedly dominated by rote learning) will illustrate the fact that explanations for procedures were given, and that such books contained many word problems to ensure that students could apply procedures and concepts to problems.

For a description of Everyday Math that is not quite as flattering as this Post piece, see my description of how I countered the effects of EM with my daughter and her friend:

More information on how Clifford Janey managed to get EM adopted in Washington DC
Seriously, what more is there to be said on the subject of Success Adds Up!!!!!


SteveH said...

Unfortunately, we have to keep repeating the final word over and over. I notice, however, that we haven't had anyone argue the benefits of Everyday Math here in a very long time.

Catherine Johnson said...

Things have reached a pretty pass around here, I must say.

New Interim Director told BOE that our K-6 kids have trouble with:

* telling & calculating time
* calculating money & change
* measurement - 6th graders cannot use rulers & cannot tell you where 1/16" is located
* math facts including addition & subtraction facts
* standard algorithms

Then she recommended sticking with Trailblazers instead of adopting Singapore Math because "there are no perfect curricula."

I believe I have told this story already, in another Comment thread.

However, it bears repeating.

Along with all the reasons why fuzzy math is not math.

Catherine Johnson said...

The board & administrators seem to have focused on the math facts: kids aren't learning their math facts so the school will henceforth teach the math facts.

That obscures the real problem, which is that kids aren't learning **math.**


Ari-free said...

"That obscures the real problem, which is that kids aren't learning **math.**"

It doesn't take much effort for an Everyday Math teacher to print out a couple of math drill worksheets. Great, Johnny now knows 9+3 and 5X7 and everyone is happy.

Except that Johnny still won't be prepared for algebra.


Anonymous said...

Lack of fluency is just one piece of the problem. Hey, at least they notice that the kids don't know things they should have learned in early grade school.

It's just the start of the problem. A parent's first red flag. Kind of like when you see your kid's journal scrawl and realize that they can't properly form letters. Red flag.