kitchen table math, the sequel: stop the multiverse

Friday, April 27, 2012

stop the multiverse

"We provide classroom teachers with lessons that allow them to teach standards-based math using topics students care about...Instead of teaching fractions and percent, teachers get to teach "Is The Wheel of Fortune Rigged?"
I left a comment at eduwonk.

and see: stop the multiverse, I want to get off


Amy P said...

Eh, isn't Wheel of Fortune an old people show these days?

Catherine Johnson said...

That was my comment!

Catherine Johnson said...

You've got to watch the video of the bored teacher teaching her bored students.

AmyP said...

"That was my comment!"

I saw that after I posted, so our reactions were totally independent.
And what's more, literally the only people I have ever seen turn on Wheel of Fortune are my grandparents.

Amy P said...

About the "61% of students would rather take out the garbage than do math homework" thing--

Taking out the trash takes a maximum of 5 minutes. For a fair comparison, you should ask, would you prefer to take out the garbage or do 4-5 minutes of math homework?

About the bored teacher/bored students thing--isn't that how you'd "teach" it if you didn't actually understand it yourself?

TerriW said...

I mentioned this to Barry but forgot to put it in my comment. In the FAQ, it says:

"How will teachers use the videos? Will they show them in class?
Teachers can use the videos in whatever way works best for them. That said, we actually don't intend for teachers to show the videos in class. [bold added by me.] Instead, we intend for teachers to watch the video, understand what it's about and the math involved, and then recreate the conversation with their students. The reason is simple: the video might spoil the surprise!

For instance, the Usain Bolt video asks, "If sprinters ran distances proportional to their heights, how far would they run?"...and then provides the answer. If a teacher shows this, then it might rob the students of the opportunity to do the math themselves. This is why we provide the related classroom materials with each video: because the teacher -- not Mathalicious -- should be the superstar in front of the students."

Sooo ... why do these need to be super high production glossy videos, then, if they don't recommend you show them to the (presumably lower attention span, more needing of snazzy visuals) students?

Barry Garelick said...

I'd rather take out the garbage than read one of Andy Rotherham's Time Magazine polemics.

Cassandra Turner said...

I'm here in Philadelphia for the final day of the NCTM conference. Where Mathalicious and Dan Meyer are all the buzz. Meyer had a completely full room. See the NCTM twitter feed for hashtag #nctm12. <- if you don't know hastags, I guess you could ask Grandma. Wheel of Fortune has one.

Catherine Johnson said...

I saw that after I posted, so our reactions were totally independent.
And what's more, literally the only people I have ever seen turn on Wheel of Fortune are my grandparents.


Catherine Johnson said...



Catherine Johnson said...

This is another whole realm of crazy in math ed: the confidence vendors have that their videos actually ARE entertaining.

For people who haven't checked out the eduwonk comments, I posted Chris's observation, made when he was 10:

"They don't understand. When they make math fun, it's MORE BORING."

I left out the capital letters in my eduwonk comment, because I felt they were rude. But the capital letters were there when Chris said it.

Catherine Johnson said...

Funny thing is, we seem to have Wheel of Fortune on all the time around here. Not sure why. (M. turns it on, I think.) I was actually sitting IN FRONT OF Wheel of Fortune when I wrote that comment.

And: the reason I was writing a comment instead of watching Wheel of Fortune is that I don't 'care' about Wheel of Fortune.

Catherine Johnson said...

Speaking as a writer, and as a person who lived in Los Angeles for years, I can tell you that it is NOT easy to write or create something entertaining.

It's chancey, and hard.

People who actually do write or create things other people enjoy watching or reading NEVER simply make something and then declare it entertaining.

That's 'cause we don't have a captive audience or a captive market.

Catherine Johnson said...

Hey Cassy!

Say hi to your folks for me, will you!

Catherine Johnson said...

I'm waiting for a Grand Sociological Study of the public education world. The whole thing is riveting .... the unreality of it all, the 'bubble' quality ....

It's a world unto itself, with a specialized language that seems, to me, to consist of regular words given separate meanings. Which strikes me as meaningful: usually separate worlds create their own specialized vocabularies, don't they? (Sports, medicine, law ---- cooking, gardening ---- all of these realms have specialized vocabulary.)

I may be wrong about this, but after all these years dealing with public education, I do feel that the use of language inside public ed is different.

Anyway, I'm getting sidetracked ..... I'm fascinated by the many, many ways in which public education simply does not comport with the world I live in.

In the land public education, practice is bad, remembering is unimportant, fun comes from math videos, and it is possible to do calculus in 8th grade because your teachers have watched math videos ---- AND a fairly large group of people seems to believe these things.

Basically, this is a vast national institution, supported by law and funded by taxes, that appears to be protected from fundamental tenets of reality by virtue of being a vast national institution supported by law and funded by taxes.

The emperor's new clothes?

K9Sasha said...

because the teacher -- not Mathalicious -- should be the superstar in front of the students."

And here I was thinking teachers were only supposed to be "guides on the side."

Catherine Johnson said...


momof4 said...

Sadly, it isn't only in math that the ed world is indifferent to real learning and/or incompetent. A relative of mine did a summer internship in a Manhattan public relations firm, about 5 years ago. Of the 16-18 interns, she was the only one allowed to write memos and press releases, because the others had such poor writing skills. They spent the summer filing, running errands etc. These kids were upcoming seniors at elite colleges, with strong enough resumes and interviews to get the internship in the first place!

BTW, the main reason my kids learned to write decently was my insistence on correcting their work and making them revise as necessary. Especially in ES-MS and especially with the younger kids, teachers usually did not.

SteveH said...

My comments on the blog were challenged with:

"Mathalicious. Dan Meyer. I don’t know why you presume to be more of an expert on mathematics than Keith Devlin, or in pedagogy than thousands of teachers across the country."

Of course, that argument works both ways. There is (according to him) no one right answer to problems, but parents don't get choice.

"Where Mathalicious and Dan Meyer are all the buzz. Meyer had a completely full room."

What do these people think of all of the students who get to pre-calculus or calculus in high school who are doing homework sets with direct instruction teachers?

They are clearly trying to solve the problem of the other students, but somehow claiming the higher ground of peagogy and content. He refers to Keith Devlin, but does he look at what it takes, math-wise, for students to get into Stanford?

SteveH said...

"I'm waiting for a Grand Sociological Study of the public education world. The whole thing is riveting .... the unreality of it all, the 'bubble' quality ...."

And then there is the reality that all of my son's honors classes in high school are direct instruction, with math having large homework sets. Apparently, these kids just don't exist. From Kindergarten, the learning style and educational needs of my son didn't exist - they weren't real. In Kindergarten, the teacher (unprovoked) told us that many kids can read early, but they don't know what they are reading. He had "superficial knowledge." They filter reality through what they were taught in ed school. The content specialists at least have some real content to influence their perceptions.

But why are fuzzies so controlling and vocal? Is this their claim to fame because they have no real subject content to claim as their own? Why are the high school content specialists, training all of the top students, so quiet? Why are all of the AP teachers so quiet? They are the ones writing the college recommendations. They know what it takes to get into college.

It's one thing to say that many kids need to cover math at a slower pace, but quite another to claim that a top-down, real world, student centered process is somehow best for all. Apparently, they do believe that there is one answer.

SteveH said...

On the Math52 site, they define this problem:

"On the 2009 Program for International Student Assessment for math, American high school students finished 27th."

But then turns around and says:

"We've come to confuse "testing" with "learning" which is bad for students and a real bummer for teachers."

And he pretends to teach students how to solve problems? Aparently, testing has no correlation with learning. So how can they tell that there is a problem?

SteveH said...

I was going to do a backward analysis of PISA by looking at real questions and breaking them into specific skills that have to be mastered. Then I was going to look at grade-level tests to see how teachers could evaluate those skills and ensure mastery.

Then again, testing apparently provides no guidance for learning.