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Topic: Op-Ed by W.Schmid in Harvard Crimson
Replies: 7   Last Post: May 13, 2000 1:14 PM

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Posts: 65
Registered: 12/3/04
Re:Delaware Teacher responds to column
Posted: May 5, 2000 11:01 PM
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Teacher responds to the Lockman column which is critical of NCTM

Wilmington Delaware Journal

archives 05/05/2000
beachcam Math teachers go beyond basics to the
traffic cams
There seems to be some confusion when
SCENE people discuss what the National
calendar Council of Teachers of Mathematics
museums intends, be it the Curriculum and
nightlife Evaluation Standards for Mathematics
teachers go
live stage presented in 1989 or the New
dining Principles and Standards for School
basics to
movies Mathematics just presented.
55 weeks
55 hours One of the most common
lodging misunderstandings is that children do
TV not need to learn their facts and
interactive algorithms (how to add, subtract,
coupon book multiply and divide). This is not so
crossword and never has been. Of course,
children have always needed these
SERVICES skills. But they are just that
buy a home -skills, not knowledge.
rent a home
buy a car Before the standards were written,
find a job most people believed that computation
classified was mathematics. Rather, it is an
ads important tool, but still just a tool.
visitors We want children to understand how and
center why they are doing mathematics. If
schools info they do not, they might be the fastest
flash-card student in class but when
[Image] they hit the real world, they will not
[Image] know how or when to apply this skill.

about us
subscriptions What the mathematics world is saying,
contact us I hope more clearly, is that these
to advertise skills are necessary to help the
positions student do mathematics. They are just
available a part of it.
web access Let me equate it to something people
[Image] are more comfortable with. Spelling is
a skill that all children must learn,
not for the sake of winning the
National Spelling Bee but so they will
be able to read and write effectively.
We do not focus our attention on
getting a child to correctly spell all
the words before they are allowed to
read or write.

Learning to think

However, for years people believed
that math facts and algorithms had to
be learned before a child could apply
his or her thinking to a problem. We
have found that this is not the case.
With the help of a calculator (think
of it as we do the dictionary in
children, who have not yet mastered
the facts, the opportunity to find the
interesting side of mathematics.

Note that the assumption is that they
will master the facts. The application
of mathematics to a problem helps
students realize the importance of
learning these skills. Think about
those drill sheets of from 20 to 50
math facts. When was the last time, as
an adult, you sat down and did a drill
sheet for fun? However, when you
handled your checkbook, taxes or the
household accounts you used plenty of
math facts but also knew the problem
and had some idea if the answer you
got made any sense. With drill sheets
alone, who can tell?

Another area of misunderstanding is
correct answers. No one ever said that
getting the correct answer was not
necessary; it is. But there may be
many ways to get that correct answer,
and there is usually is a best way.
This does not mean that what is
considered the best way should be the
only one considered.

Let's look at a problem. We have four
children in each of six cars who are
going to the circus. How many tickets
will we need?

Will the answer be incorrect or any
different if we were to add
4+4+4+4+4+4 or if we multiply 4 by 6?

Perhaps the acceptance of being
the problem. I have had many
experiences with parents and other
adults who have said, "I was never good in math
so I
expect my child to be any good." Yet I have never
heard a
parent say to me that they were never any good in
so it is not necessary for their child to be a

How often we see well-educated, intelligent
people in
restaurant having difficulty figuring 15 percent
bill for a tip or each guest's portion of the
They readily admit they are unable to do it.
people ever admit being unable to read the menu?

Why then is it acceptable to be mathematically

I was educated at the time when one had to know
before getting into real math. Math terrified me
because I
did not understand what or why. It was not until
there was more to math than these facts that I
to be interesting and even fun. I never realized
riddles, games and puzzles all involved skills
can be
learned in math class. Mathematics is a way of
about problems; ask Bill Gates.

Americans must begin to think about mathematics
differently. The technology that is so critical
to our
global society is based on mathematics. Children
understand mathematics if we are to maintain our
place in
the world.

--Martha J. McCormick, of Newark, is a
in the

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