Some subscribers to
MathEdCC might be interested in a recent discussion-list post
"Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between Traditionalists And
Progressives" [Hake (2012)]. The abstract reads:
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
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. . . . ."):
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
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>
"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."
"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
-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"
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
Schoenfeld, A. 2004.
Wars," Educational Policy 18(1), 253-286; online as a 164 kB pdf
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.