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Topic: Prof. Stds. BB (July 24)
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Ronald A Ward

Posts: 298
Registered: 12/4/04
Prof. Stds. BB (July 24)
Posted: Jul 24, 1996 6:33 PM
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This is the 28th [and last!] post in a series of questions,
concerns, comments, and issues related to NCTM's 1991 publication,
"Professional Standards for Teaching Mathematics." Today we will focus
on "Next Steps," pp 189 -- 194. Because all questions have been numbered
sequentially for reference purposes, I'll begin today with # 117. [As
always, readers who have missed any of the preceding posts may write to
me directly and I will send you what you want.]

Ron Ward/Western Washington U/Bellingham, WA 98225

117. Given the writers' emphasis on the total environment in which
teaching and learning takes place, and the existence now of all three
NCTM Standards documents, I wonder if the "futures" discussion
(mid-course correction?) might consider an INTEGRATED standards document
which simultaneously updates, modifies, makes connections, and weaves common
threads from all three?

118. Given that it has been seven years since the C&E Standards were
released, and five years since the Professional Standards debut, are you
finding evidence in your community of collaborative efforts to reach
consensus on how your "school mathematics programs need to be changed and
what steps are needed to make that change"? Do you see a "systematic,
long term commitment to change that heads in an appropriate direction" and
which would remain operative even if the standards are modified in the

119. Although we have previously discussed the professionalism issue,
including decision making vs accountability, input into professional
development that really meets teachers' needs at all levels, and so
forth, some of you might wish to discuss the role of teacher educators in
the "development and regulation" of the profession.

120. The writers suggest that reform becomes a reality thru the
"individual acts of teachers." Do you agree with this? If so, do
school systems in your area encourage teachers to grow in their profession
thus ensuring the "self esteem and intrinsic rewards" necessary?

121. I'd say there has been considerable discussion on this listserv
about some of the issues raised in the "structure of schools" section,
including varying the length of class periods, the myopic view of some
districts concerning teacher participation in conferences, etc. But I would
still be interested in hearing from readers about how we can BUY TIME for
teachers to do all the things discussed in this document.

122. Concerning "entry into the profession" I would remind readers that
"the current shortage of QUALIFIED mathematics teachers" does not
necessarily translate into available jobs--lots of UNQUALIFIED folks
retain their positions. I'd have to say that in my own part of the
country, there is fierce competition for teaching jobs and lots of good
folks cannot find employment. So I'm not sold on the need for more
alternative forms for initial licensure. There are programs, for
example, for folks who are employed full time in the schools as teachers'
aides and who take all their coursework at night. I find myself
wondering when they do their required reading? How much time do they
spend solving problems? It just seems to me that something has to get
short changed in the process. At least the writers included a list of
"what's essential"!

123. I agree that "teachers need to know both where their students have
been and where their students are going mathematically," but I wonder if
it's happening? For example, do elementary school teachers "experience
the big ideas of school mathematics at all levels"? Do their instructors
even have a clear idea of what those big ideas are? To say that high
school teachers need to understand how significant math ideas prior to
high school are represented implies a considerable amount of time spent,
it seems to me.

124. The authors lay the blame for the schism between school mathematics
and the mathematics studied at the university squarely on college and
university mathematicians. I think they are correct. What is required
are mathematicians who CARE about precollege math education and who are
knowledgeable concerning school mathematics--rather rare in my
experience. Perhaps the place to look is in organizations such as the
Mathematicians in Educational Reform Forum [MER]. Reactions?

125. If you are a precollege teacher, did you learn in a technology-rich
environment? If you are a college or university math ed instructor, do
you teach in such an environment? It might be helpful for several of you
to describe such environments and how they influence learning.

126. I would be interested in hearing about the NATURE of interactions
among mathematicians, educators, math educators, and precollege math
teachers in your area, provided such collaboration truly exists. It is also
gratifying, I think, to note the ongoing emphasis both on expanding the
pool of young people who are interested in pursuing professions in
mathematics or the sciences as well as attracting talented and caring
young people into teaching. Perhaps some of you who have specific
programs targeted toward these efforts could share some insights into
what works.

127. How do mathematicians "communicate the excitement of mathematics" to
elementary school students, especially those from underrepresented groups?

128. The writers advocate the articulation of mathematics programs
between elementary, middle, high school, and college. It has been my
experience working in such programs that although there is substantial
interest on the part of those who teach at a LOWER level in hearing how
they can better fit or match with those teaching at the next level up,
such feelings are seldom reciprocated in the opposite direction. :)

129. Here is a serious question for you: As a teacher at any level, do
you "have high expectations that EVERY student can learn mathematics"?
When you reflect upon the college and university math departments in your
experience, would you say that "creating learning environments for
students in which the building of confidence in the learning and doing
of mathematics is a primary goal" was important to them?

130. One question regarding accrediting agencies: have you noticed a
trend for colleges and universities who can't "pass NCATE" to simply drop
out of that process and substitute state recognition? Concerning state
certification agencies, I can only say "Amen!" to the recommendation that
they review their practices in light of these standards documents. It is
very discouraging to have, for example, k-8 certification but neither
middle school certification nor elementary content specialist
recognition. Or to have states that provide endorsements in mathematics
that require relatively little mathematics and that, essentially, "do an
end run" around educators who are serious about proper preparation.
Other concerns?

131. The section on "networking with other disciplines" is thought
provoking. It is hard to argue with the logic of seeking common ground,
supporting other disciplines, sharing ideas and so forth. But I wonder
if some of the argument can be reconciled with earlier pleas for separate
math methods, subject-specific learning approaches, and so forth. What
do you think?

132. There have been a number of posts on this listserv concerning
whether the research exists to support the standards. On the one hand,
these writers say that the vision set forth is based on values and
beliefs that are "consistent with current research." But then they say
that these standards "suggest a research agenda." Anyone care to comment?

133. The last paragraph prior to the "summary" does a nice job of listing
what we still need to understand. And the first paragraph of the "summary"
provides an excellent lead into the current call for ideas concerning the
future of the standards. I think that's an excellent place to end our
discussion of the Professional Standards!

This concludes the AMTE series on the Professional Standards. I
wish to thank all of you who have contributed to the discussion either on
the listserv or by writing directly to me. I encourage you to respond to
any one of today's items, to ask different questions or express different
concerns on the "Next Steps" section, or to go back and pick up a previously
listed item. I also hope that many of you will respond to the
invitation, initially from Annie Fetter, then from
Mary Montgomery Lindquist and Hank Kepner, and most recently from Ed Esty to
participate in the "futures" discussion.

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