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Topic: Discussion: Do US Math Teachers Suck?
Replies: 31   Last Post: Mar 28, 2012 4:52 PM

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Clyde Greeno @ MALEI

Posts: 220
Registered: 9/13/10
Re: Discussion: Do US Math Teachers Suck?
Posted: Mar 24, 2012 6:02 PM
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" ... the US in Math is a world joke."

Paul presents a case that when international test scores are viewed with
regard for *curricular productivity*, the U.S. fares well in the
comparisons.

One interpretation is that, in truth, U.S. scholastic productivity in
mathematics education actually is quite good. Another is that, in truth, the
top producing countries are doing not much better than the U.S. ... and most
others
are doing worse or much worse.

International comparisons are a form of grading on a curve. The score
comparisons might be of interest to those who are focused on how the
nation's well being depends on its comparative STEM-power. But the rubber
hits the road
at how well the U.S. is doing at meeting its own people's needs for personal
educational health in mathematics.

It is hardly comforting to surmise that few other nations are
doing a better job at math-educating their students than we are with ours.
25% of American students drop out of school ... and mathematics is the
primary academic cause. Basic algebra has become a major stumbling block for
high school graduation. 35% of American students "graduate" from high
school (commonly
as mathematics illiterates) but do not go on to higher education
(mathematics being the primary academic cause). Another 20% drop out of
college (mathematics being the primary academic cause). Relatively few
college graduates major in math-dependent fields. Roughly half American
adults are victims of at least latent MLD ... that they earlier contracted
during childhood. (MLD: Mathematics-Learning Distress: apprehension,
anxiety, depression, fear, phobia, etc.) Multitudes of college graduates are
unable to help their own kids make common sense of school mathematics.
American colleges do not educate students for mathematically parenting
children ... quite the opposite!

So, curve-grading the U.S. via international comparisons badly fails to
disclose the realities of nationwide personal mathematical health ... and
how it is affected by curricular education. If the mathematical health of
the nation is judged with regard for the personal mathematical health of its
constituents, the U.S. is in very bad shape. If the rest of the world is in
equally bad shape, or worse, it might be because other countries are trying
to teach math in the same, futile ways that long have been used in the U.S.
The default mode is parrot-training ... which culminates in educational
disaster.

" It has to be one or the other, ..." [... either American students are
poor,
or their teachers are].

Its not quite that simplistic. Most teachers of school mathematics try to
do what they have been trained to do, and think they are expected to do and
are paid to do. Much the same is true of their students. Neither population
can be blamed for not knowing how to do something else that is better ...
or even for not knowing how better to do what they now are trying to do.

American students have not been educated in *how* to learn mathematics. Most
teachers of mathematics have been so misguided about the natures of
mathematics ... and of education in mathematics ... that they are unable to
make it mathematically common-sensible to their students (or even to see the
crucial educational-health need for doing so). Apparently, some nations are
better at that ... and some are worse ... but the curve of international
test scores is probably not a reliable indicator.

Because the American scholastic curriculum has (for generations) largely
failed to make
school-level mathematics common-sensible to the students, themselves,
American children, teachers, and schools rely on students' abilities to
memorize and parrot what their books and teachers say and do. Because that
is how most American adults were reared, most have been trained to think
that parrot-training is what mathematics "education" is all about (a la
NCLB, Khan, Saxon, ALEKS, Kumon, et al).

We do know that those parrot-trained students who are scholastically
successful enough to persist with curricular mathematics eventually acquire
conceptual understanding of what they earlier "learned" (usually a year or
more after "learning" it). That kind of persistence ... for scholastic
success through parroting ... is more consistent with the modes of "well
disciplined" cultures that strongly honor subservience and conformity than
it is with the modes of cultures whose youth are more free-wheeling and
self-directed. That difference is seen as much within the U.S. as between
nations.

Myopic leaders and educators are oblivious to the fact that in modern
democratic nations, parrot-training is only short-range expedient and is
long-range disastrous. They have badly failed to nurture the advent of a
scientifically reliable knowledge-base for the education of career
educators.

As a result, most American teachers of mathematics are woefully
under-educated for developing students' functional personal mathematical
intelligence. Instead, most have been trained mostly by whatever textbooks
they have used (since their own childhoods), and by other teachers whom they
choose to emulate. They are expected, paid, and commonly required to
"implement" curricula as directed ... without being educated to judge how
healthy or unhealthy a particular curriculum is for the students, or how to
improve it. Most are so trained to function only as instructional
technicians. Only a very small minority are educated to effectively
function as instructional technologists. [Very few mathematics educators are
competent mathematics instructologists.]

It does seem that the richer the mathematics teachers' knowledge within and
about the mathematical arts ... and within and about the psychology of
mathematical comprehension ... the better they are at making curricular
mathematics common-sensible to students. For sure, there are countries
whose teachers ... in the norm ... are better educated in both of those
areas.

So, it would seem that American teachers might already be about as good as
could be expected ... in doing what they are trying to do (implementing
parrot-training curricula) ... with "undisciplined" American students who
know only how to try to do what (parroting) they are trying to do. The
tragedy is that (try as they must) the students presently cannot learn
curricular mathematics as mathematical common sense ... because the
curricula that teachers implement are not scientifically designed to be
mathematically common-sensible to students.

Cordially,

Clyde

- --------------------------------------------------
From: "Ken Abbott" <abbottsystems@gmail.com>
Sent: Friday, March 23, 2012 3:31 PM
To: <math-teach@mathforum.org>
Subject: Discussion: Do US Math Teachers Suck?

> Does America leads the world in math education? Nope. The US is being
> kicked in the groin by China and most other countries. The USA is a joke
> in Math. I've travelled around and hear the jokes. Why is this? Is it
> because US Math teachers suck so bad? Or is it because US math students
> suck so bad? It has to be one or the other, because the US in Math is a
> world joke.



Date Subject Author
3/23/12
Read Discussion: Do US Math Teachers Suck?
Ken Abbott
3/23/12
Read Re: Discussion: Do US Math Teachers Suck?
Paul A. Tanner III
3/24/12
Read Re: Discussion: Do US Math Teachers Suck?
Clyde Greeno @ MALEI
3/26/12
Read Re: Discussion: Do US Math Teachers Suck?
kirby urner
3/26/12
Read Re: Discussion: Do US Math Teachers Suck?
kirby urner
3/26/12
Read Re: Discussion: Do US Math Teachers Suck?
Robert Hansen
3/26/12
Read Re: Discussion: Do US Math Teachers Suck?
Haim
3/26/12
Read Re: Discussion: Do US Math Teachers Suck?
Robert Hansen
3/27/12
Read Re: Discussion: Do US Math Teachers Suck?
Louis Talman
3/27/12
Read Re: Discussion: Do US Math Teachers Suck?
Robert Hansen
3/27/12
Read Re: Discussion: Do US Math Teachers Suck?
Louis Talman
3/27/12
Read Re: Discussion: Do US Math Teachers Suck?
Robert Hansen
3/28/12
Read Re: Discussion: Do US Math Teachers Suck?
Louis Talman
3/28/12
Read Re: Discussion: Do US Math Teachers Suck?
Robert Hansen
3/28/12
Read Re: Discussion: Do US Math Teachers Suck?
Louis Talman
3/27/12
Read Re: Discussion: Do US Math Teachers Suck?
Clyde Greeno @ MALEI
3/27/12
Read Re: Discussion: Do US Math Teachers Suck?
Robert Hansen
3/28/12
Read Re: Discussion: Do US Math Teachers Suck?
Louis Talman
3/27/12
Read Re: Discussion: Do US Math Teachers Suck?
Robert Hansen
3/28/12
Read Re: Discussion: Do US Math Teachers Suck?
Louis Talman
3/27/12
Read Re: Discussion: Do US Math Teachers Suck?
Robert Hansen
3/27/12
Read Re: Discussion: Do US Math Teachers Suck?
Haim
3/27/12
Read Re: Discussion: Do US Math Teachers Suck?
Robert Hansen
3/27/12
Read Re: Discussion: Do US Math Teachers Suck?
kirby urner
3/28/12
Read Re: Discussion: Do US Math Teachers Suck?
kirby urner
3/27/12
Read Re: Discussion: Do US Math Teachers Suck?
Domenico Rosa
3/27/12
Read Re: Discussion: Do US Math Teachers Suck?
Robert Hansen
3/27/12
Read Re: Discussion: Do US Math Teachers Suck?
Dave L. Renfro
3/27/12
Read Re: Discussion: Do US Math Teachers Suck?
Domenico Rosa
3/27/12
Read Re: Discussion: Do US Math Teachers Suck?
Haim
3/28/12
Read Re: Discussion: Do US Math Teachers Suck?
Haim
3/28/12
Read Re: Discussion: Do US Math Teachers Suck?
Robert Hansen

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