The problem is that this story doesn't really say much of anything. What reforms in math and science education did they try? Why did they fail? For those not familiar with the Connecticut Academy, like me, for instance, this story is baffling.
What exactly are they trying this time around? Yes, the story does mention some details, but how do they plan to help students see the importance of mathematics and science? Many attempts from educators to help students see the importance of mathematics, for example, are a bust because the only applications presented are contrived and the math is taught in ways that nobody outside the classroom uses. And students are often not taught to think about mathematics in ways that help them understand the subject and how to use it meaningfully. Without that, we can throw as many applications in a course as we wish, and students won't learn math any better than they do now.
And if the Connecticut Academy continues to use standard commercial textbooks (at least the ones I'm familiar with), they won't see any progress. Riddling textbooks with applications but presenting math in disconnected bits and pieces and without the underlying common sense logic and without explanations about how we learn to translate real-world situations into mathematical language will help very little, if at all. I've seen my share of textbooks packed with applications that are unreadable to the typical student and force the student to memorize rather than to understand.
On 9/5/2010 at 2:15 pm, Dom Rosa wrote:
> The "Connecticut Academy" was created in 1991-1992, > when Connecticut received a multimillion-dollar grant > from the National Science Foundation's Statewide > Systemic Initiative campaign. For almost 20 years, > the "Academy" has been at the forefront of promoting > "math reform" and "integrating math and science > education" through courses, workshops, and > conferences that were designed to "retrain" teachers. > The following article would indicate that all of > these have been abject failures. Now the "Academy" is > launching another five-year plan for "changing a > culture." What really needs to be changed is the > culture of abject failure that the "Academy has been > promoting for 20 years. > ============== > > The Hartford Courant September 2, 2010 Page B2 > > http://www.courant.com/news/education/hc-board-of-educ > ation-math-0902-20100902,0,1384109.story > > Education Group Seeks To Raise Interest In Math And > Science > By GRACE E. MERRITT > > September 2, 2010 > > HARTFORD -- Consider this fact: 84 percent of middle > school students say they would rather clean their > rooms, eat their vegetables, go to the dentist or > take out the garbage than learn math or science, > according to the National Science Foundation. > > Alarmed by that statistic and reams of other > research, a nonprofit Connecticut education group > said Wednesday that it will launch an unusual > grassroots initiative to change cultural views toward > math and science and get students to take personal > responsibility for their own learning. > > "We have to stop adults in this country from saying, > 'You know what, I'm not good at math,' and people > smiling. That's a culture and we have to change that > culture," said Richard C. Cole, president and CEO of > the Connecticut Academy for Education in Mathematics, > Science & Technology. He presented the idea Wednesday > to the State Board of Education. > > The five-year initative will be run by the academy > and guided by a steering committee of leaders from 15 > community organizations. It will run in conjunction > with new state school reforms emphasizing math and > science and won't cost the state a dime. The > initiative will be privately funded, initially by the > GE Foundation, Northeast Utilities and Hamilton > Sundstrand. > > The idea is to get students to understand why math > and science are important to their lives and > recognize that it will take personal effort, > diligence and work to learn it, Cole said. > > "Nobody is doing this as a state -- not the issue of > changing a culture," Cole said. > > The effort will complement the state's new emphasis > on science, technology, engineering and math as well > as new requirements for high school students to take > four years of math and three years of science, > starting with the freshman class of 2014. > > The initiative, called CONNverge, will be launched > Oct. 21. > > The state Department of Education is enthusiastic > about the concept. > > "We think that's great because that's part of our > secondary school reform -- to have more emphasis on > math and science," said state Department of Education > spokesman Tom Murphy. "We are hearing this loud and > clear from the Connecticut Business and Industry > Association and that's one of many ways to achieve > this."