Teachers--- Is it Time to push back a bit on Math!?!

Hi All..... hope this finds you all well.

Came across this by Ron Wolk and thaought it was interesting and certainly matches my experiences....

It doesn’t add up: Who needs higher mathematics? http://www.projo.com/opinion/contributors/content/CT_wolk10_03-10-0...

Somehighlights:

The main reasons students are not learning algebra and geometry is that they don’t really want to. They think higher-order math is irrelevant to their real lives. They can’t imagine that they will ever use algebra and geometry.

And they are mostly right.

I am willing to bet that the majority of Rhode Islanders who graduated from high school have made little, if any, use of algebra or geometry. Most, like me, probably forgot most of what they “learned” before the ink was dry on their diplomas. I squeaked through algebra, plain and solid geometry, and trigonometry, but a year later I couldn’t explain the difference between a cosine and a stop sign. And I can’t think of an instance over the past half-century when I needed algebra or geometry.

A prominent Rhode Island businessman once said to me: “I have been a successful businessman for 40 years; I founded and ran a Fortune 500 company, and all the math I ever used were addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, and figuring percentages in my head.” What are the odds that he would pass the New England Common Assessment?

I am not denigrating math. It is important in helping us cope with the demands of everyday life. It is also a powerful problem-solving tool that can help students learn to think logically and reason clearly. Fortunately, it’s not the only path to clear thinking. Students can also learn to think and solve problems by studying the humanities — literature, history, philosophy — and by engaging in analysis, discourse, and debate.

Perhaps most importantly, math is the language of science and engineering — a prerequisite for any student who aspires to a career in those fields. And in this high-tech world and global economy policymakers and educators constantly worry that the United States will lose the race because we aren’t producing enough scientists.

But if we think we will get more kids to become scientists and engineers by force-feeding them algebra in the 8th grade and higher-order math through high school, we are deluding ourselves.


But what about the students who reach the 8th grade with neither an interest in, nor talent for, math or science? How likely is it that they will excel in (or even benefit from) courses in higher-order mathematics?


The terrible downside of the national movement to establish “rigorous” standards for what every kid should know is and be able to do, is that it treats all kids the same. But students are not all alike. They learn in different ways at different speeds, have different abilities and interests, have different hopes for the future. Requiring all of them to meet the same high academic standard at the same time makes no sense.

Ronald A. Wolk is the founder and former editor of Education Week. He is chairman of the Big Picture Board in Providence, and a member of the governor’s task force on urban education.

So teachers....... what do you think of Mr. Wolk?

Is he on to something or is it a 21st century skill that ALL kids learn higher level math?

be well... mike

Views: 61

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

He ended the article with a remark that to foster a passion fpr math and science it can be encouraged in the elementary level. With all the testing done and the expectaions for those students to meet their standards i don't see it growing much Iother than a growing dislike for either subject. The joy of making those discoveries I believe come from having the opportunity to discover the mysteries which just doesn't happen often in test prep. My POV of vouse. I agree with him that math and science are not for everyone but the awakening of its beauty is amazing when it happens.
Couldn't disagree more. Dumbing down the curriculum is not the answer. Further dividing accepted culture knowledge is not the answer. Algebra forces kids to THINK in a way that frankly no other subject does.

As a history teacher I am shocked by how little thinking is expected of my kids before they get to my class. They simply cannot think abstractly. That is why they struggle with algebra and geometry. The problem isn't a lack of interest in the subject, it is a lack of interest in thinking period.
Hi Elana and Kev... hope this finds you well.

Algebra or any subject doesn't lead to thinking..... thinking is an interior event.

Kev wonder what would cause humans... who by nature are curious and inquisitve....to stop thinking?

What happens in schools that cause this to occur?

Share with us what you do to help those kids learn to "think".

By the way.... i am not talking about dumbing down anything.... what i am thinking about is using the students interests and gifts so that we would not need to see our work as making students learn things they have no interest in.

By the way.... i have to agree with the author above........

( Algebra )Fortunately, it’s not the only path to clear thinking. Students can also learn to think and solve problems by studying the humanities — literature, history, philosophy — and by engaging in analysis, discourse, and debate.

How much of this do we see in our schools?

What can we do as teachers to see more of it?

I also agree with Elena...... "awakening of its beauty is amazing when it happens."

Would add that statement for any subject area...........

be well... mike
Algebra or any subject doesn't lead to thinking..... thinking is an interior event.'>>

I said it forces you to think in ways no other subject does. I am fully aware that thinking is a conscious, internal process.

Again, I teach history. I have no vested interest in seeing Algebra pushed on kids except that I understand cognition. Forcing brains, especially developing ones, to think abstractly is a beautiful thing.

Our modern culture can't deal with failure. That is the problem, not algebra.
Re: “The terrible downside of the national movement to establish “rigorous” standards for what every kid should know is and be able to do, is that it treats all kids the same. But students are not all alike.”

I can only speak from an Ohio educator’s point of view, but here, we definitely know that students are different. Many, many students have IEPs, and we have taken differentiation to a new level, at least in theory. We need more practice, to be sure, but the ultimate goal is for classroom teachers to present instructional material and direct learning activities in a variety of ways. The purpose is to meet each student’s individualized learning style, so each student can meet rigorous standards. Is it working? I don't know. Basic literacy seems to be on the decline. Go figure ;-).
Hi All... hope this finds you well and thanks for the discussion.

Tami.... i am trying not to assume anything... i have no problem encouraging kids to pursue challenges.

What the article suggests to me is that the rigorious focus on math at earlier and earlier grades may not be in the best interest of ALL students. You mention also the need for supports of those growing interests.... absolutely critical and in fairly short supply. Fair really is not the same as equal..... and the author points out that kids have gifts and abilities outside the realm of math and science.

Kev.... would love to hear more concerning your statement about failure and our culture. And please expand on your use of the word force. Can you really force another to think abstractly?

Are you seeing more and more algebra 1 and geometry being taught in the middle schools where you live?

How are your highschools dealing with it when the kids move on?

thanks...mike
To be a bit traditional in these august and adventurous non-portals, from my experiences in the mathematics classroom, you (well, I can't, anyway) can't make geometry and algebra live for many junior students - they are disciplines that seem to require many abstract concepts to be held simultaneously, which seems to be a developmental capacity, and some junior students don't yet have that capacity (I'm told there is brain research to substantiate this claim, but I haven't seen it.) Normally I cringe at the phrase, but in this case, I am sure that the students who tell me they just don't 'get' it are correct. (And there is no point trying to get them to get it without the capacity to do so.

RSS

Report

Win at School

Commercial Policy

If you are representing a commercial entity, please see the specific guidelines on your participation.

Badge

Loading…

Follow

Awards:

© 2019   Created by Steve Hargadon.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service