I agree with Chesloff completely assuming he means competent computational skills through ordinary fractions, decimals, and percent with straightforward, sensible word problems using these. That is what the "understanding" at that level is supposed to be, not the silly pictures of multiplication and such as pushed by the implementers of the CCSS. Blinding speed and floss accuracy is NOT necessary for use or for development of appropriate self-confidence but competent speed and competent accuracy is essential and that is a step-by-step process. For example, ordinary fraction arithmetic requires competent national number arithmetic competence, not the ability to discuss the whys and wherefores of the commutativr, associative, and distributive laws, just use them appropriately when the situation calls for it. Regarding the kind of word problems I have in mind, both the Singapore Primary Series and Saxon Math are excellent examples which explains part of why these curricula are so popular with homeschoolers and so unpopular with the received wisdom of professional mathematics education "experts". This is not just for "mathy" students going into STEM careers; competence in less glorified trade careers also need the same start.
One of the things that works against competence and self-confidence in mathematics (as for reading and language composition) is our ungodly level of social promotion. Nothing kills self-confidence as much as expecting kids to do stuff for which are not prepared and, at the other extreme, nothing kills interest and excitement as much as repeating boring stuff ad infinitum instead of challenging prepared students appropriately.
At 09:23 PM 6/14/2014, Robert Hansen wrote:
>On Jun 14, 2014, at 11:53 AM, Joe Niederberger ><email@example.com> wrote: > > > Just a discussion starter: > > http://anniemurphypaul.com/2013/06/why-do-so-many-of-us-hate-math/# > > > > I'll quickly add that if one just googles this topic, you will > find many many answers, almost all of which have some ring of truth > about them. An obvious question is therefore, what, if anything, > can be done to improve people's opinion of math (or at least their > experience of it,) and would such remediation have any wider > benefits for society? > >"The answer, Chesloff writes, lies in high-quality early education, >which research shows substantially reduces grade retention and >juvenile arrests and substantially increases high school graduation >and college attendance. Research also finds that the young brain is >particularly open to learning math and logic concepts and that early >math skills strongly predict later learning." > >First off, are we talking about lowering juvenile arrests and >increasing graduation rates, or are we talking about filling highly >technical STEM jobs? Those are two vastly different goals. The >latter requires more than just liking math. The latter requires >technically demanding courses for students that not only like math >but are also good at it. > >The issue I have with this *liking math* approach is that I struggle >with the lack of suitable candidates in IT jobs every day and it >isn't about finding candidates that liked math in school, it is >finding candidates that are good at math. Being good at math >correlates strongly to being good at many technical things, and IT >is one of those technical things. We find american candidates that >like math, at least they say they do, but damn if they suck at it. >They lack even the basic analytical skills we associate with >mathematics. Maybe the foreign students liked math in a much more >technical and demanding environment? > >Also, for some reason, college admittance I guess, many of our >brighter students are spreading themselves too (academically) thin. >They are not generally good at anything in particular. Sometimes an >internship or first job fixes that but it is a crap shoot when they >come out of school that way. > >And finally, I find too many candidates, citizens and non, that are >not only not experts, but don't even seem to understand the notion. >I owe a lot of my success at recognizing experts when I meet them >and running my ideas by them. I am not saying that everyone must be >a superstar but everyone does need to dedicate themselves enough to >their work to become local experts. > >Bob Hansen > >------- End of Forwarded Message