I currently have a middle schooler who is "force fed" algebra, Khan-style. That is, topic to topic with little connection, and little retention. It is simply the predominant method of teaching math in middle and high school. That's why the Khan videos are so popular - they emulate the teaching style of most teachers and professors.The ones who can memorize do well. But I am sure there are many kids like mine, who need to have fundamental explanations of how things fit together and who need a focus on making sense out of math. I'm not talking about "touchy-feely" math, but a real understanding of concepts *and* skills. Not sure how math is taught in other countries, but the "skill, drill and kill" seems to be fairly universal. Perhaps other countries do not force feed as many topics as is done in American high schools and middle schools. No wonder kids hate math - and that translates to my college students coming in with extreme math anxiety.
In all fairness, high schools are not totally to blame- they'll tell you that they need to teach all those algebra topics so that students can take and hopefully pass the math placement tests in college. College prep school districts like our have most kids in algebra by 7th grade, so that they all have a shot at calculus in 12th grade (It looks good on the college apps - I am told). Looks like a vicious circle to me.
Sadly, the folks who need be aware of these things are reading any of these discussions - they seem to not even be aware that such discussions could possibly exist!
On Wed, Sep 7, 2011 at 9:15 AM, Petrak, Daniel G. <firstname.lastname@example.org>wrote:
> I think Clyde is right on here. The entrenched misconception of what > mathematics is hurting our students. The reasons we all fell in love with > the subject are not being perpetuated very well in our classrooms. I think > technology like the Khan academy may enable us to shift what we do and what > we demand from our students. We are hopefully being freed from the mundane, > low level, procedural aspects of our subject and allowed to push our > students thinking up Bloom's taxonomy. The role of faculty (especially in > developmental mathematics) has been very focused on procedures and > manipulation. I think these new tools can help us shift some of these > responsibilities to software and change our role as faculty. I am curious > to see what you all think. > > > Dan Petrak > Des Moines Area Community College > Associate Professor of Mathematics/ > Faculty Liaison to Distance Education > email@example.com > 515-964-6882 > > ________________________________________ > From: firstname.lastname@example.org [email@example.com] on > behalf of Clyde Greeno @ MALEI [firstname.lastname@example.org] > Sent: Wednesday, September 07, 2011 12:54 AM > To: Alain Schremmer; email@example.com > Subject: Re: Khan Academy: Math instruction goes viral > backlash > > Alain, Roy, et al: > > Unfortunately, the greater and more serious dilemma is that "Khan > mathematics" is a relatively accurate picture of what today's American > public (and most of its educators) have been led to mean by "mathematics" > and by "education in mathematics". That is largely why the USA lags in > mathematics ... and why most students flee from the mathematics curriculum > ASAP ... and why most Americans become victims of "math anxiety" before > ceasing their formal schooling. Quite bluntly, it is a woefully UNHEALTHY > kind of robotic training. > > The only hope is for the college/university community to catalyze > nationwide > dissemination and use of healthier, enlightened, and more realistic > perceptions of what "education" in "mathematics" SHOULD be all about. But > alas, most college/university professors were > "education" in Kahn-type "mathematics" ... and their proposed "educational > reforms" typically are about how to more effectively produce Khan-type > "education" in Khan-type "mathematics". Does any other nation rely on a > better perception of "education in mathematics"? > > So, the impetus for nationwide reorientation must come from a > college/university *minority* whose humanitarian concerns ... couched in > sociological, philosophical, and psychomathematical considerations ... are > strong enough to override the traditions through which they arrived. Is > any > such "fratority" even on the visible horizon? > > Might the cyber-visibility and the increasing notoriety of "Khan > mathematics > education" catalyze the sorely needed backlash ... through emergence of the > needed conclave? Who would even want to belong to such an academic > fellowship for re-orienting American education in mathematics? > > Wishfully, > Clyde > >
-- Dr. Revathi Narasimhan Associate Professor of Mathematics Coordinator- M.A. Mathematics Education Kean University, Union, NJ http://www.kean.edu/~rnarasim