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Topic: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And
Progressives

Replies: 30   Last Post: Sep 5, 2012 2:14 PM

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Robert Hansen

Posts: 7,966
From: Florida
Registered: 6/22/09
Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
Posted: Aug 30, 2012 7:31 AM
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Students who are interested in and aspire to these subjects acquire both concept and skill when they are in a class that provides and requires both. You cannot succeed with these subjects without both and you cannot succeed if the curriculum does not provide and require both. These authors you have quoted speak as if the world is either concept-centric or skill-centric, but there are three horses in this race, not two. High achieving students and the curriculums that feed them are both conceptual and skillful.

Furthermore, there is no evidence that skill-centric approaches even exist. You see this myth in physics and mathematics education. The authors speak of classes that are skills-centric as if the students in these classes learn mechanical manipulation and procedure and nothing else. I have never found such a class. Oh, I have found classes that include skills but I have never found a class where the students were successful with those skills yet ignorant of reason and concept. What I found was a lot students that were not successful at all. As another example, you hear arguments against arithmetic and fractions because it is claimed that this is nothing but procedure. We would be so lucky if our students were at least just successful with the procedure. The reality is that they are not. Some thought that this was because they were weak conceptually. Fair enough. But then that somehow turned into curriculums with no procedure at all. Not fair enough!

My point being - There is no such thing as a skills-centric class turning out mathematically successful students ignorant of reason and concept. We are not here because previously most of our students were successful with the mathematics but ignorant of the reason. We are here because most of our students were not successful with the mathematics nor the reason. We are here because most students simply are not interested in these subjects. They aspire to other subjects, and there are dozens of other subjects to aspire to. Sometimes they aspire to no subject. This is not a curriculum issue. You put a bunch of interested and aspiring students in a room and you won't even need a lesson plan. You will not even finish with 10% of their questions that first day. You will have to continue the next day, and the next and so on.

There are no lingering questions as to how to teach interested and aspiring students physics, or math, or writing, or music. If you have just some "teacher DNA" in yourself, these students will bring it out. It seems to me that reformists have a problem with the notion of interested and aspiring. They go to great lengths to ignore or deny the aspect of talent in their reasoning. Some go to extreme lengths, like Marion Brady. He has made it clear that he thinks virtually no student understands these subjects to any real depth. Except for Marion Brady I guess. Yet they attend seminars to listen to talented people lecture. They visit museums and galleries to view the work of talented artists. The attend plays and symphonies and enjoy the product of talented actors and musicians. They read books by talented authors. They live in a world of so many talents that none of us get to experience them all in one lifetime, and then they go back to their classrooms and forget all of it.

This isn't really about teaching physics or math or music or anything, is it Richard? This is about everyone being the same. This is about that "middle ground" that Alan proposes.

Bob Hansen

On Aug 29, 2012, at 5:45 PM, Richard Hake <rrhake@earthlink.net> wrote:

> Some subscribers to Math-Teach might be interested in a recent discussion-list post "Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives" [Hake (2012)]. The abstract reads:
>
> **************************************************
> ABSTRACT: University of Colorado English Professor Martin Bickman, at his website <http://bit.ly/MUXUgx> states (paraphrasing): "While my book 'Minding American Education' [Bickman (2003)], see <http://bit.ly/OSYLdc>, won a national academic award, I soon discovered that meaningful educational change happens primarily at the local levels, working student to student and teacher to teacher."
> Bickman drew from his book in a piece in the "Los Angeles Times" which he had meaningfully titled "The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives And How To End It," but which was changed by an editor to the snappy but senseless "Won't You Come Home John Dewey?" [Bickman (2004) at <http://bit.ly/OF7DWF> - scroll to the APPENDIX]. Therein Bickman wrote [paraphrased for brevity; bracketed by lines "bbbbb. . . . ."):
>
> bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb
> One of the reasons this continuing conflict between traditionalists and progressives is so heartbreaking is that, around the turn of the last century, John Dewey was able to create resolutions both in a philosophic and practical sense. He looked out on an educational landscape torn between similar apparently competing philosophies:
>
> (a) that centered on the notion of "child-study" and the person of G. Stanley Hall <http://bit.ly/NBfLEK>, with a Rousseau-like sentimentality about nature and children, more concerned with what it saw as health and wholeness than with intellectual growth; and
>
> (b) that centered on high academic achievement as defined and organized by curricula and textbooks, led by William Torrey Harris <http://bit.ly/OoqXag>, more concerned with the standard curriculum - arithmetic, geography, history, grammar and literature - the "five windows of the soul," as Harris called them - that rescued the young mind from its immediate narrowness.
>
> Instead of enlisting on one side or the other, Dewey in a crucial 1902 article, "The Child and the Curriculum" at <http://bit.ly/QsVuHi>, CONCEPTUALIZED EACH POSITION SO THAT IT WOULD NO LONGER SEEM A MATTER OF THE CHILD VERSUS THE CURRICULUM. [My CAPS.]
> bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb
> *************************************************
> To access the complete 19 kB post please click on <http://bit.ly/Pup0Nb>.
>
> Richard Hake, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Indiana University
> Links to Articles: <http://bit.ly/a6M5y0>
> Links to SDI Labs: <http://bit.ly/9nGd3M>
> Academia: <http://bit.ly/a8ixxm>
> Blog: <http://bit.ly/9yGsXh>
> Twitter <http://bit.ly/juvd52>
> GooglePlus: <http://bit.ly/KwZ6mE>
>
> "Education must be conceived as a continuing reconstruction of experience; that the process and the goal of education are one and the same thing.. . . .[[page 434]]. . . . [It does not mean, as it is often misunderstood,] that we have no choice save either to leave the child to his own unguided spontaneity or to inspire direction upon him from without. But [it recognizes] that no such thing as. . . . . insertion of truth from without is possible. All depends upon the activity which the mind itself undergoes in responding to what is presented from without.. . . . [[page 357]]. . .. "
> - John Dewey (1974) - as quoted by Ansbacher (2000)
>
> ". . . .there are several ways to distinguish those who advocate a concept-driven reform curriculum from those who remain defenders of a skills-oriented traditional curriculum. . . . . .They represent different value systems. I believe that rational, reflective discussion and exploration of these issues can bring the two sides closer together. . . . . . . I am told that California schools educate one-seventh of the students in this country. There is too much at stake to continue the fighting, to take a chance on sacrificing the mathematical education of our children by not reaching some agreement on what that education should be."
> - Judith Sowder (1998)
>
> "An exclusive focus on basics leaves students without the understandings that enable them to use effectively. A focus on 'process' without attention to skills deprives students of the tools they need for fluid, competent performance. The extremes are untenable. So, why have so many people taken extreme positions, and why are things as polarized as they are? More important, what might be done about it?. . . . . . . I remain convinced that there is a large middle ground. . . . . . .One way to reclaim the middle ground, suggested by Phil Daro (2007), is to define it clearly-to specify a set of propositions that will call for some degree of compromise from reformers and traditionalists alike. That middle ground would be broadly encompassing, containing propositions that most people would find reasonable (or at least livable). The short-term goal . . . must be to capture the middle ground for the majority. Efforts must be made publicly to identify the extremists for what they are and to marginalize them. The math wars have casualties-our children, who do not receive the kind of robust mathematics education they should."
> -Alan Schoenfeld (2004)
>
> REFERENCES [URL's shortened by <http://bit.ly/> and accessed on 29 August 2012.]
> Ansbacher, T. 2000. "An Interview with John Dewey on Science Education," Phys. Teach. 38(4): 224-227, April; online to subscribers at <http://bit.ly/InrLvJ>. A thoughtful and well-researched treatment showing the consonance of Dewey's educational ideas with the thinking of most current science-education researchers (as quoted straight from Dewey's own writings, not from the accounts of sometimes confused Dewey interpreters).
> Daro, P. 2007. "Math wars peace treaty," online at <http://bit.ly/OJD8Pf>.
>
> Dewey, J. 1974. "John Dewey, On Education: Selected Writings," edited and with an introduction by Reginald D. Archambault. University of Chicago Press, publisher's information at <http://bit.ly/QT9ipb>.Amazon.com information at <http://amzn.to/Ubf75G>, note the searchable "Look Inside" feature.
> Hake, R.R. 2012. "Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives," online on the OPEN AERA-L archives at <http://bit.ly/Pup0Nb>. Post of 29 Aug 2012 10:41:56-0700 to AERA-L and Net-Gold. The abstract and link to the complete post are being transmitted to several discussion list and are also on my blog "HakesEdStuff" at <http://bit.ly/PuHY6g> with a provision for comments.
> Schoenfeld, A. 2004. "The Math Wars," Educational Policy 18(1), 253-286; online as a 164 kB pdf at <http://bit.ly/OIljxk>.
> Sowder, J.T. 1998. "What are the 'Math Wars' in California All About? Reasons and Perspectives," Phi Beta Kappa Invited Lecture; online as a 98 kB pdf at <http://bit.ly/O6R9If>, thanks to Professor Bowen Brawner of Tarleton State University.




Date Subject Author
8/29/12
Read Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And
Progressives
Richard Hake
8/30/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
Clyde Greeno @ MALEI
8/30/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
Robert Hansen
8/31/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
Clyde Greeno @ MALEI
8/30/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
Robert Hansen
8/30/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
kirby urner
8/30/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
Robert Hansen
9/1/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
kirby urner
8/30/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
Robert Hansen
8/31/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
Clyde Greeno @ MALEI
8/31/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
Robert Hansen
9/1/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
Clyde Greeno @ MALEI
9/1/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
Robert Hansen
9/2/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
Clyde Greeno @ MALEI
9/1/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
kirby urner
8/30/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And
Progressives
Haim
8/30/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
Paul A. Tanner III
8/31/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And
Progressives
Haim
8/31/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
Robert Hansen
9/1/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists
And Progressives
Wayne Bishop
8/31/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And
Progressives
Haim
9/1/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
Paul A. Tanner III
8/31/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And
Progressives
Haim
9/1/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And
Progressives
Haim
9/1/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
Paul A. Tanner III
9/2/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And
Progressives
Haim
9/4/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
Paul A. Tanner III
9/4/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists
And Progressives
Wayne Bishop
9/5/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
Paul A. Tanner III
9/3/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And
Progressives
Haim
9/4/12
Read Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives
Paul A. Tanner III

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