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Topic: reform
Replies: 3   Last Post: Jun 18, 1997 1:23 PM

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jerry rosen

Posts: 244
Registered: 12/6/04
Posted: Jun 11, 1997 2:09 AM
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I have made two points about algebra.

(1) It is one of the most foundational subjects which all students must
know by the time they graduate HS (and in most cases sooner). Without
algebra skills students lack the tools to study any kind of calculus.

I am glad to see some people agree and others concede this - although I
find it absolutely astonishing that this is even open to debate.

(2) Learning algebra is an excellent way to get students to learn how to
study. In this country, vast numbers of students are not expected to
learn how to study in any way that would help them in college or on a
job. I think most would agree that if a student is not going to study
then any worthwhile program is doomed to failure.

Here at CSUN in the San Fernando Valley with a population of almost 3
million, we see hundreds of calculus students every semester in several
different sequences.

There are at least three things they have in common:

(1) They don't know algebra and above

(2) They have no conception of how to study

(3) They all have good calculators and most have gone through HS math
programs which have advocated using calculators and computers. Ten years
ago, my average student had much better study habits then today and there
was a much higher percentage of strong students.

Now reformers will say that the HS teachers haven't been properly trained
in how to use technology in teaching math. This is irrelevant from the
perspective of reform because a HS math teacher who has not learned what
is behind calculus will not be able to produce competent students
regardless of what other training they may have received and the reform
movement advocates abolishment of theory in calculus as well as
de-emphasizing computation and many important topics.

Also, as I said before, it is a disaster to postpone proof ideas until
the junior year for math and other scientific majors. Furthermore, there
are schools, such as mine, where prospective HS math teachers are not
required to take advanced calculus.

So if we examine the reform argument as a whole it says:

Eliminate theory and much computation in calculus (and I am only talking
about the main calculus sequence for math/eng./CS majors) and emphasize
computers and/or calculators. At the same time they claim (see the
forward article following this message) that attempts to do this have
failed because teachers are not prepared to do this properly.

If anyone thinks that we can somehow train teachers how to use technology
to enhance HS math teaching without having them take a decent math major
sequence - including real calculus and linear algebra courses - then you
are sadly mistaken and there isn't a whole lot to say.

On the other hand, it doesn't really matter because in reality wide
spread attempts to get technology into the HS curriculum have only
resulted in worse students and there is no evidence that such a global or
even local (to an entire district) can succeed.

Please look over the next two articles.

Date Subject Author
Read reform
jerry rosen
Read Re: reform
Judy Wheeler
Read Re: reform
Philip D Larson
Read Re: reform
jerry rosen

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