What an excellent article, Professor Becker, and thanks for posting it (Sep 4, 2013 12:10 AM, http://mathforum.org/kb/thread.jspa?threadID=2597334). > ******************************* > From The New York Times, Monday, September 2, > 2013. See > http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/03/science/expecting-th > e-best-yields-results-in-massachusetts.html?pagewanted > =2&_r=0&pagewanted=all > ******************************* > > EDUCATION ISSUE --- This is a special issue > devoted to science and math education. > > Expecting the Best Yields Results in Massachusetts > > By Kenneth Chang > I'm not claiming that the arguments within the article itself are perfect or that they are "the end of it all" (though many of those arguments are entirely sound). The implications of the article are important for education - and the other features and articles referred on the subject are well worth studying.
One implication is that the "constructivist approach" is not necessarily the perfect and only way: it's just an approach that has many sound concepts within it - though some of 'constructivism' has been discredited by the 'traditionalists'. The article indicates (for instance in the matter of 'teaching' multiplication): > > Take the multiplication table. The traditional > approach was to memorize it in order. A strict > constructivist would have children figure it out > by playing with sticks and other so-called > manipulatives. > What worked in a real case quoted in the article is that teachers learned to "devise and improve", by taking whatever was useful from each of these approaches.
That is, teaching should NOT be rigid, but flexible (like the human mind itself).
Actually, the whole answer to practically all the problems of your educational system does lie right in there (if you know how to interpret what's useful) - AND in the ideas that stakeholders in the educational system have in regard to how to improve it in each specific state, in each specific area, in each specific school, AND for each specific child.
It's entirely possible to do - though in the conventional management approach the above may be impossible.
Stakeholders just need to learn how to *integrate* all of the available good ideas (continuingly and all the time) - and there's your truly effective educational system for you! It really shouldn't take longer than a couple of years. (According to some of the slogan shouters at Math-teach, you've been trying without success to improve the US educational system for some 60-odd years or longer!)
You'll definitely need to go beyond the conventional 'management theories', beyond the 'conventional wisdom'.
Simply learn how to take what's useful in there (there's a fair bit that's useful); how to reject what's useless (and there's a fair bit that's useless also!)
You'll definitely need to do some (a very small bit of) learning - this is easy. You'll also need to do a fair bit of 'unlearning' - this is not so easy (but it IS possible, if you don't allow yourself to get hung up on the conventional wisdom, the conventional attitudes, the belief that you already know everything that's worth knowing).
Above all, in order to design an effective education system you really need to learn how to *design systems* - which is something the management theories simply do not know how to do at all: Look at all the terribly functioning systems we have around us! The conventional 'Management Science' has not 'managed' to help at all!!
>From the NYT article: here's what a 'special needs' student in the Massachussetts school system said: > > "Math is pretty nice," said Abby Federico > Indeed. And it's not really difficult at all to create a true revolution in your education (math and other) AND in your other systems as well.
The process of designing effective systems is, in principle, very simple indeed - it really is as simple as '1-2-3': ++++++++ 1) Get all the available ideas together;
2) *Integrate* all available good ideas (there are plenty of these). Throw out the rubbish ideas (there are a fair bit of these as well).
You will need to construct models showing just how the good ideas "CONTRIBUTE TO" accomplishment of the system's goals desired by the stakeholders; and how the rubbish ideas "HINDER" the accomplishment of the system goals;
3) Interpret the models you make and proceed to implement on the basis of what your models tell you.
(Words or phrases enclosed in *s (*----*) contain some meaning that goes beyond what's available in the conventional dictionaries. ++++++++ Well, that's it!