After a hectic couple of weeks, I finally found a little time to sit at the computer and browse — and boy, was I amazed to see what I had missed! If you have not yet read Dave‘s interview with Prof. Lynn Arthur Steen about the state of math education reform, click over and check it out: Part I here, and Part II here.
According to the intro, Prof. Steen “has been a driving force for the reform of school mathematics for many years and was on the development team that produced NCTM’s Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics. For the last few years, he has been involved in Achieve’s commitment to developing world-class mathematics standards for K-8 and ADP’s similar commitment to secondary mathematics.” He has some interesting things to say, although many of his statements are open to various interpretations, and at times he seems determined to provoke a hot-headed response. For instance:
I’m not terribly bothered by lack of coherence and consistency. I’d rather focus first on getting more students to learn more mathematics of whatever kind may interest them.
One [contributing factor to the current “Math Wars”] is the natural tendency of parents to want their children to go through the same education that they received—even when, as often is the case with mathematics, they admit that it was a painful and unsuccessful ordeal. This makes many parents critical of any change…
Oh, really? Hmmm. The format of the interview did not allow follow-up questions for clarification. Next time, maybe.
At any rate, the real treat for me is reading the comments, as is often the case on Dave’s MathNotations blog. Several readers have taken part in a strongly-voiced (yet never vitriolic) discussion of the state of math education in public schools, and how/whether concerned parents can make a difference.
And after that, be sure to click over to Mathmom‘s related post: Gifted Math Education: acceleration, enrichment, and the Calculus Trap.