Teacher responds to the Lockman column which is critical of NCTM standards
Wilmington Delaware Journal
sports DELAWARE VOICE finance archives 05/05/2000 obituaries beachcam Math teachers go beyond basics to the principles traffic cams There seems to be some confusion when [Image] SCENE people discuss what the National calendar Council of Teachers of Mathematics 05/05/2000 museums intends, be it the Curriculum and Math nightlife Evaluation Standards for Mathematics teachers go live stage presented in 1989 or the New beyond dining Principles and Standards for School basics to movies Mathematics just presented. the 55 weeks principles 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. help 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 [Image] experiences with parents and other adults who have said, "I was never good in math so I don't expect my child to be any good." Yet I have never heard a parent say to me that they were never any good in reading so it is not necessary for their child to be a good reader.
How often we see well-educated, intelligent people in a restaurant having difficulty figuring 15 percent of the bill for a tip or each guest's portion of the total bill. They readily admit they are unable to do it. Would these people ever admit being unable to read the menu?
Why then is it acceptable to be mathematically illiterate?
I was educated at the time when one had to know the facts before getting into real math. Math terrified me because I did not understand what or why. It was not until I realized there was more to math than these facts that I found math to be interesting and even fun. I never realized that riddles, games and puzzles all involved skills that can be learned in math class. Mathematics is a way of thinking 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 must understand mathematics if we are to maintain our place in the world.
--Martha J. McCormick, of Newark, is a teacher in the Christina School District.