We expect a school curriculum to enable almost all students to not only 'learn' mathematics but 'retain' it enough to avoid a need for serious review. Sometimes, we just do not understand how unreasonable society is (relative to education).
Instead of grieving over the state of knowledge in our students, let's think about what will truly help them. Testing all students on skills with fractions is not much help, nor is delivering a curriculum based on 'good enough for high school . must be good enough for college, so we'll do it in one semester'. We might just discover that our own mathematics curriculum in college is part of the problem. For some ideas on reform curriculum, see my blog www.devmathrevival.net and our wiki http://dm-live.wikispaces.com/
Professor, Mathematics & Computer Science
Lansing Community College
-----Original Message----- From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of Phil Mahler Sent: Friday, May 03, 2013 10:27 AM To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: RE: RE: David Berliner on "A Nation at Risk": Three Decades of Lies #2 - ADDENDUM #2
> Half of all freshmen need remediation? Plainly, something has gone terribly wrong...
I am not convinced that something has gone terribly wrong, though I agree that there are things that need fixing. Things have always been terribly wrong, depending on one's interpretation of what is right.
Consider these facts (I know that all facts are disputable);
In 1932 20% of 12th-grade students could compute 2.1% of 60.
In 1937 Taylor studied more than 2000 freshmen in teachers' colleges and found that more than half could not divide 175 by 0.35.
The rate of college enrollment immediately after high school completion increased from 49% in 1972 to 70% by 2009.
Now consider that 1932 a much smaller percentage of students went to high school. 12th grade was rare. In 1947 trigonometry was a college freshman level course, at least according to a long-ago then-older colleague who was a math major at a large mid-western university.
I am sure that in the good old days lots of people couldn't compute.
Think about the demographics of the extra 21% that go to college since 1972. I doubt if these come from the top of their high school class. But once, they had a shot at getting a job anyway.
A lot of the remediation we demand is in the area of hand calculation of decimals and fractions. Of students that have been using calculators for the last 5 years or more. When we are done we often still don't know if they can get correct answers with a calculator, though that is what they will use for the rest of their life.
And also we remediate algebra that most don't really need (I don't mean the basics of variables, signed numbers, linear equations).
For me, there are challenges, important ones, but I think some of them are misdirected.