David L. Hanson wrote: > > The foolish NCTM standards include high school level. Mr. Escalante has joined > many professors of math in California in pointing out that NCTM standards > stink. But then what do we expect from the rotten government schools? NCTM > standards joins the failed whole language reading method, the politically > correct history standards, the fornication education, and rabid and stupid > ecology which are all prevalent in government schools. > > David L. Hanson
I must say that Pat Robertson and the Christian Coalition would be very happy with the way you have stood up for their platform.
However, as much as I respect Jaime Escalante, I believe that he is VERY wrong about the NCTM Standards. The traditional mathematics classroom does not allow for the success of ALL students who are enrolled. Traditionally, classes with diverse social, economic, and ethnic make-ups have seen only the brightest students from the upper-middle class strata excel.
The attempt of the NCTM Standards is to level the playing field in the mathematics classroom by encouraging equal opportunities for all students involved to build their own foundations on which to place basic and advanced mathematical concepts.
In my mathematics classroom today, students are unable to relate the mathematics done in class and for homework to the real world. The Standards attempt to encourage teachers to focus more on the applications of mathematics and the appreciation of mathematics (connections, connections, connections!!). By encouraging teachers to do this, the NCTM has also established the direction that textbook publishers should be taking in order to help more students achieve success in the mathematics classroom.
I cannot take anything away from Mr. Escalante; he succeeded with a group of students that everyone had given up on. However, I think that is the point of his success. His classes primarily consisted (at least in the beginning) of students from the same socioeconomic background: there was no diversity in his classroom. Further, he motivated these students by challenging them and convincing them that he KNEW they could do the mathematics--a strong underlying tone of the NCTM Standards, as well.
I believe that too many people have short-changed the Standards by taking what they are attempting to promote much too lightly. The basis behind them lies much deeper than just elimination of rote learning, although rote learning is NOT eliminated by the Standards, it is just de-emphasized in favor of more thought-provoking, mental exercises which accomplish the same end, but with many additional benefits!!
Lastly, I'll leave you with the perfect description of what a math teacher should be. This quote comes from the book _The Dancing Wu Li Masters_ by Gary Zukav. It is the description of a t'ai chi master:
He begins from the center and not from the fringe. He imparts an understanding of the basic principles of the art before going on to the meticulous details, and he refuses to break down the t'ai chi movements into a one-two-three drill so as to make the student into a robot. The traditional way...is to teach by rote, and to give the impression that long periods of boredom are the most essential part of training. In that way a student may go on for years and years without ever getting the feel of what he is doing.