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Topic: Re: Scott, curriculum
Replies: 1   Last Post: Jul 5, 1995 10:16 PM

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Michael Paul Goldenberg

Posts: 7,041
From: Ann Arbor, MI
Registered: 12/3/04
Re: Scott, curriculum
Posted: Jul 5, 1995 10:16 PM
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On Wed, 5 Jul 1995 wrote:

> Scott,
> Just because students aren't doing well in math doesn't mean we need a new
> standard curriculum. What is the main thing that has changed in the last 50
> years? Women have joined men in the work force (which is good, I believe).
> The brightest women no longer go into teaching and they are not home raising
> their children. In addition. we have one of the highest rates of
> illigitamate births in the world. This has caused a huge social change
> which is not going to be corrected by inventing a new curriculum. Most math
> teachers do not have the education to impliment the Standards in any case.
> If teachers and administrators were forced to be educated, they would bring
> there own standards into the classroom. Educating teachers is the first
> standard that must be put in place although this alone will not solve the
> problem!!
> I'm not totally against what the NCTM has accomplished. I listen to all
> ideas and have picked up quite a few interesting teaching stategies both from
> the Standards and from other teachers on this mailing list. I've been
> particularly inspired to do more more group learning activities next year.
> Kent

This post is amazingly similar in flavor, if not in content, to
discussions in my student-teacher practicum: we can't do things
differently because students, parents, veteran teachers, administrators,
(and custodians, no doubt!) won't let us.

This line of argument has been used by conservatives for years in such
diverse arenas as desegregation, health care reform, sex education, and
the treatment of gays in the miltary; it's also common among certain
left-wing educators (e.g., Michael Apple, Henry Giroux) who employ it
with the added twist that until ALL social ills are remedied, no specific
reform can be successful (and the implication, at least from Apple, is
that a Marxist government would be the only way to implement wholesale
social change successfully).

As a pragmatist, I find such reasoning specious, regardless of the
concommitant political sentiment. It seems to me that the issue is: what
can I do for MY students, MY colleagues, MY school, MY district, to make
things better? How can I as a teacher, researcher, professor, supervisor,
etc., contribute in concrete ways to the improvement of mathematics
education. Since I have colleagues who are doing this with a great deal
of innovation and success, I believe that I, too, can do so. Of course
there are many obstacles. But as someone has wisely said, anything worth
doing is worth doing badly. Instead of waiting for perfect circumstances
in which to anchor reform, it seems to me we need to approach education
with an experimenter's zeal for finding out what might be successful,
grounding our efforts in our awareness of what has and hasn't been
efficacious in the past, armed with a flexible theory of how improvement
might be obtained.

I don't mean to accuse anyone in particular of "foot-dragging," since it
seems to me that we're all guilty of wanting to find our comfort zone and
then stay in it, even when the evidence is overwhelming that we're being
selfish and obstinate in doing so. It's certainly important to understand
the obstacles to reform, but the argument that their existence makes
reform too difficult doesn't hold water.


Michael Paul Goldenberg
University of Michigan 310 E. Cross St.
4001 School of Education Ypsilanti, MI 48198
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1259 (313) 482-9585
(313) 747-2244 email:


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