kitchen table math, the sequel: Steve H on Everyday Math in Palo Alto

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Steve H on Everyday Math in Palo Alto

responding to Sean Cavanagh on Re-examining a Math Skirmish:

Cavanagh: 'Focal Points' reflects a growing consensus that A) the current math curriculum is overcrowded and confusing for teachers and students; and B) creating a more focused curriculum and encouraging students to master certain key topics lay the groundwork for their foray into more difficult math later.

Steve H: Everyday Math does not meet either condition A) or B). But then again, "encouraging" mastery is just so wishy-washy it could mean anything. The Focal Points are just used to get others to go away so that schools can continue to decide on all of the details.

Cavanagh: Which raises another question, in all of these skirmishes: Where are parents getting their information about the various math curricula?

Steve H: You can't pick and choose your arguing points. You know quite well that there are many serious, well-founded objections to these math curricula. By not focusing on real problems, like ensuring mastery rather than "encouraging" mastery, you either don't understand what's going on or you're trying to change the subject.

The Focal Points is an educational turf manifesto. It's designed to make others go away. It won't work. Details matter. It's time to move beyond the simple argument that parents just want what they had when they were growing up. Let's talk about why parents have to care about this in the first place. Because schools aren't getting the job done.

March 18, 2009

The notion that Well-meaning parents should not be able to vote based on five minutes of Google research is going to be hard to sustain given the fact that Google now supplies a very large portion of the "curriculum" to which American children are exposed.

In my district, which has adopted every known "initiative" promoted by ed schools and their ancillary consultants and vendors,* "research" means Google and teachers routinely pull "projects," assignments, and tests from the internet.

e.g.: recent Advanced Placement writing assignment given to high school students: Google 10 pieces of nonfiction writing on the web -- any kind of nonfiction writing written by anyone at all -- and summarize each.

If Google is good enough for AP Comp teachers, it's good enough for parents.

What's Google for the goose is Google for the gander.

* differentiated instruction, 21st century skills, media literacy, balanced literacy, reading workshop, writing workshop, Assured Writing Experiences (AWEs), middle school model, exploratories, interdisciplinary teaming, cross-curricular everything under the sun, character education, and so much more!

ignoring parents in Palo Alto
welcome to the Grand Canyon
a teacher-mom on Everyday Math
the plot thickens
Steven H on Everyday Math in Palo Alto

where parents get their information
"reality" in Palo Alto

Parents frustrated over math texts
Teacher committee recommends new math text
Ed Week on the ed wars

interview with my cousin re: her experience with EM


Independent George said...

The sheer arrogance of the response continues to astound me. Mr. Cavanaugh seems to be projecting - the sheer ignorance displayed makes me wonder if he's spent more than five minutes of Google research to familiarize himself with the parents' objections.

Barry Garelick said...

I posted a comment asking Sean to tell us what side he's on. Among other things. I doubt he'll respond. He sometimes does, but I find it interesting that he didn't respond to any of the comments. I also find it interesting that ALL of the comments were on the same wavelength and critical of Sean's arrogance.

SteveH said...

He knows that he has no defense. He knows what's going on, and it's clear that he is taking sides. Maybe he doesn't think it's obvious. I'd like to know whether his education is in journalism or education.

"(I often forget which side of the "math wars" I'm supposed to be on. Then one of these commenters will helpfully remind me.)"

This is really a bad case of claiming to be independent when it's obviously not true.

Maybe if he stuck to the problems of dealing with emotional education issues at school board meetings, it would have been fine, but he didn't. When anyone can go to the meetings and say almost anything, then it's easier to lump them together and dismiss them. That's why we hear stories about how parents only want what they had when they were growing up, but not the well-researched presentations. They pick and choose their arguing points.

Barry Garelick said...

He doesn't think or know it's obvious what side he's on. He also underestimates the intelligence and knowledge of the public. A few inconvenient facts, and he's walking away whistling with his hands behind his back, onto the next column.

Sounds like he was a journalism major and this was the only gig he could get.

Catherine Johnson said...

One of the few things I do not forget is which side of the math wars I am on.

And if I ever do forget, 5 minutes of Google research will bring it all back to me.

Catherine Johnson said...

Barry was saying the other day that "5 minutes of Google research" ought to become a standard around here.

I agree.

Catherine Johnson said...

If a curriculum is so loathed by parents and mathematicians that a person can find this out in five minutes of Google research that is reason enough not to inflict the thing on students.

Catherine Johnson said...

Ooooohhh, here's a math curriculum countless thousands of parents and mathematicians detest.

Let's buy it!

Barry Garelick said...

I think I said that the phrase "5 minutes of Google research" is going to replace Warhol's "fifteen minutes of fame" meme. By the way, I hate the word "meme" so my apologies for using it.

But it does come in handy when describing the Everyday Math meme as Sean Cavanaugh is wont to do.

Catherine Johnson said...

Well, now I'm changing my mind. This morning I was reading some hideous thing in the WSJ about Google ripping off authors ("Google's Book Settlement Is a Ripoff for Authors") & I'm thinking of never switching to Dog Pile.

Catherine Johnson said...

Oh, this is interesting!

The Dog Pile Everyday Math search lets you run a second search called Everyday Math Complaints.

Catherine Johnson said...

What the Professors Say

Barry Garelick said...

Looks like VOTEBOE, or whomever published the professors' comments may have raided NYCHOLD and did not give proper credit. So Google is not the only one. Let's not forget which contains many reviews of the various math programs.

Crimson Wife said...

What is going on with schools in the Silicon Valley area? I live a few towns over from Palo Alto and my district also voted last month to adopt EM.