On Mon Oct 28 22:29:32 2002, Susan Pfohman wrote Re. Investigations Curriculum Value:
> I now am teaching high school math at a >low achieving high school in Portland. I can spot the students who >have some depth of understanding of mathematical patterns and number >sense. Generally there's some standards-based curriculum in their >background.
Susan, I assume by your reference to "standards-based" curriculum you mean NCTM Standards-based curriculum. It is more helpful for parents and others to be given the standards to which one refers when using the term "standrads-based." There are other exepmplary math standards to which good math programs are aligned, eg California Math Standards and those developed by the Singapore Ministry of Education.
>When I see it, I am relieved for them. Not angry. Not >worried. Not frustrated with opportunity lost. Quite the contrary. >When I see a students who has had teachers who moved away from the >abstract to the meaningful, I see hope for that student's future. >We parents come with a variety of perspectives. Don't presume we >all want what we had in the way of math curriculum or instruction >for our hildren.
I think those with varying perspectives on TERC and other NCTM Standards-based programs agree students should develop deep understanding and appreciation for the mathematics they learn.
From my experience, even the harshest critics of TERC and the NCTM Standards based reform, recognize the value of questioning, discussion, student to student sharing of thoughts and ideas, asking students to appreciate the nature of math, efforts to make math meaningful, to require students to grapple with problems and concepts, and the fundamental value of developing conceptual understanding. These are hallmarks of quality education.
I've not heard suggestions waged by concerned parents or classrom teachers or mathematicians that any of these components lack importance and value.
Where perpsectives diverge is on issues of content, specificity of goals and objectives grade by grade, the fundamental value of learning standard arithmetic algorithms , the requisite for some explicit instruction and regular objective assessments, and the necessity for mastery of math facts and arithmetic skills in order to advance and to fully participate in conceptual development and problem solving skills all along the way into more advanced math and science school coursework and college level study.
I don't know many parents who hold most dear for their children's math education a repeat of what they themselves received, unless of course they were among the lucky minority to have received an excellent mathematics education in this country.
Those on both sides of the math wars agree our country's mathematics education has been mediocre at best for the great majority of our students.
Please don't presume that those parents critical of TERC hunker for a time gone by where all was well in US math education, or that they advocate a traditional education comprised only of drill and rote learning ( ie "fact regurgitation" or "bunch o' facts")
This is a false characterization often attached to critics of TERC, and the NCTM reform, and are often made (sadly) along with charges of racism and elitism.
I have personally been accused of being a racist and an elitist based purely on the values and standards I hold for my son's mathematics education
Such false assumptions, so quickly made, are not only baseless presumptions, but divisive and can be a serious threat to democratic discourse. And in my particular case, somewhat laughable, since I come from extremely liberal roots.
Stick to the substantive concerns, not the counterproductive spin.