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Topic: Time for Moderation (in more ways than one)
Replies: 7   Last Post: Aug 7, 2000 3:01 AM

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Michael Paul Goldenberg

Posts: 17
Registered: 12/6/04
Time for Moderation (in more ways than one)
Posted: Jul 22, 2000 10:08 AM
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To paraphrase Mark Twain: There are lies, damned lies, and Wayne Bishop.

Where to begin? Name a math textbook series that is so complete (in
EVERYONE'S view of "complete") that it wouldn't need to be supplemented, at
least in the view of some parents, teachers, mathematicians, or Dom Rosas?
Second, consider that according to Liping Ma (yes, this IS quickly starting
to sound like a Scripture-contest. Oh, well), one of the great strengths of
Japanese and Chinese texts is their brevity. Recall that the entire first
six years' of math textbooks in Japan can be held in one hand rather easily.
But Ma avers that the DEPTH of coverage is such that elementary school
mathematics is given a 'profound' treatment. Consider next that she openly
states that the US should NOT be using the texts, in translation, of course,
from Japan, China, Singapore, etc. So WHAT'S A MOTHER (or teacher, or
teacher educator) TO DO?

Are we damned either way? Or is it really a matter of judgment on the part
of the best teachers (those with PUFM) who become "backbone teachers" that
lead the way for those who do not yet have (and may never have, as evidenced
by some of the less sterling teachers from China) PUFM? But Ma recognizes
that there are many cultural barriers to that kind of structure arising here
quickly, if ever. American teaching culture isn't big on collaboration. And
Americans are faddish, as evidenced by California which has switched
directions at least twice at great expense and controversy in the past
decade alone; be it politics, or 'science,' or the phases of the moon and
position of the planets, we aren't big on picking a direction or textbook,
or anything and sticking with it for twenty years, as they do in Asia, or
taking FIFTY years change overall curricula, as is the case in Japan,
according to Makoto Yoshida, a senior researcher from Japan on the lesson
study project at Columbia University who attended Wednesday's sessions with
Ms. Ma.

Again, name a program that wouldn't have teachers and parents worried and
unhappy. Does Dr. Bishop deny that there are at least a sizable number of
teachers and parents who thing MathLand and other reform curricula are
excellent and who would be just as irate about their being dropped as those
who see things from HIS perspective? Is he that blind or just that
mendacious? What should be, therefore, the solution? If more parents and
teachers LIKE these programs, is it Majority Rules? Or does that only hold
if the majority agrees with Mathematically Correct's positions? Failing to
hold the majority, MC calls for choice. Holding it, even locally, there is
NO CHOICE given or called for by these alleged 'liberal Democrats.'

Let's not kid ourselves: MC wants total power to determine what textbooks
can be used in California (and don't think this is limited to mathematics,
folks). They want to control state and local boards of education, offices of
instruction, and any other body needed to see that their vision and only
their vision operates in California (not to mention elsewhere). They are NOT
about compromise. They are NOT about dialogue. They have nothing but
contempt for anyone who has opposing views (see Dr. Bishop's charming and
never-flagging use of the word "fuzzy" below for a tiny but typical piece of
evidence). This will not change. They are fanatics. And worse, they KNOW
they're right and that the entire rest of the mathematics education and
general education communities are, well, FUZZY.

While I would like believe that the goal for all of us is to improve
mathematics education in this country, to do that requires people of good
will and good faith, people who wish to learn, people who don't assume that
what they conceive of without experience of teaching is simply, by force of
personal and abstract logic alone, the ultimate truth. Unfortunately, none
of the prominent and vocal members of Mathematically Correct fit those
requirements. They continue to do back-alley dealings that might make
Machiavelli blush. Wayne will deny this, bluster, or call for my being
tossed off this list. He may well even threaten a lawsuit (or perhaps it
takes David Klein for that). But, to use an old cliche, the truth will out.
And while the rest of us try to improve what we understand and move forward,
I'm afraid that Dr. Bishop and his friends will only continue to look for
the place to insert the stiletto.

Thus, I think the time has come for a moderated list. There are many
important issues being raised in our field right now which would avail
themselves of intelligent collegial discussion without rancor or epithets.
We need to be able to disagree without assaulting one another personally, to
be able to speculate or discuss failure without fear that presenting new
ideas or problematic old ones will be held up as proof that we're idiots who
don't know what we're doing. In other words, we need to be able to use the
internet to accomplish what our teaching day does not allow for but which
Ms. Ma and most everyone in attendance at her presentations agreed was a
vital component for teacher change and growth. Since we can't readily get it
at many schools, yet Ms. Ma contends that we have vast resources for
promoting teacher change in this country, I have to believe that such an
on-line forum would be one of those resources.

It has been evident for years that there are people here and on math-teach
who have no interest in such things. In most cases, these people are NOT K12
teachers and hence are not motivated to see such forums develop. Rather,
they wish EVERY public forum to become a place for them to preach. They have
succeeded in destroying or undermining any attempt to provide a safe
environment for public discussion.

I would welcome the creation of a moderated list. I would actively support
one and would gladly cooperate in the development of reasonable criteria for
posts and the screening of posts to ensure that they do not deflect
discussion from the stated goals. Certainly input would be welcome from
everyone with something to contribute, but no one, not even I, would be
allowed to post things that are inflammatory or in the nature of personal
attacks. Any post that fails to meet the criteria would be rejected for
revision or abandonment. I think that there is simply no other way to allow
the possibility of contributions from EVERYONE without the rapid
resignations of just about anyone (except for those with streaks of
masochism, sadism, or both ;^). Other venues will no doubt allow for
continued 'dueling' and contests involving the slinging of mud, so there is
no fear that creating a moderated list would deny anyone the pleasures of
what we see here so regularly. Or perhaps if a truly safe venue existed,
most of us would go there to pursue what we really want: a place to learn,
speculate, and grow as teachers, researchers, and teacher educators. And
some of us could, ahem, 'retire' from the Math Wars and actually work on our
teaching practices more fully.

Don't all raise your hands at once. ;^)
>From: Wayne Bishop <wbishop@calstatela.edu>
>Reply-To: amte@esunix.emporia.edu
>To: AMTE <amte@esunix.emporia.edu>
>Subject: Re: A Case History from the Silicon Valley
>Date: Fri, 21 Jul 2000 22:18:37 -0700
>

> >If they were in fact used together, this data could lend support to my
> >contention that there is a middle ground that performs better than either
> >extreme.

>
>It's a reasonable question, Ray, and I know nothing about the situation of
>that
>post other than the person's name and her district; it's the Bay area so a
>long
>way away. In general, however, the teacher perception of MathLand, even
>among
>the fuzziest, is that "Everyone knows you have to supplement MathLand."
>[In
>fact, that is a verbatim quote from one of the most influential and
>fuzziest
>mathematics educators within the CSU after it had been in wide use for only
>a
>year or so.]
>
>Although I know of no formal studies to support it, the general perception
>is
>that it's best to supplement as much as the local principal and the
>district
>supervision will allow. A formula of 100% supplement and 0% basic MathLand
>seems to be about right and is becoming more and more popular across
>California. In my own district and some others with which I'm familiar,
>Excel,
>a small publisher out of San Diego, is a popular choice. They're not on
>the
>state approved list but cheaper than a whole other program and lots of
>schools
>really like it. Those that have purchased a full CA-standards-based
>approved
>program seldom touch the MathLand, even if it's still sitting there.
>
>Greg is basically right about the importance of PUFM and it's what's
>missing in
>your idea of "a middle ground that performs better than either extreme."
>It
>sort of buys into the notion - and Ma's writing does too - that traditional
>programs are extreme (but not her own Chinese one!). Of course, some were
>-
>some *are* - but the hideous caricature was never the *goal*. Good
>teachers,
>same as good parents, are keeping their eyes open for any opportunity to
>make a
>math lesson out of a natural setting, even if it has to be forced a little
>to
>get the point across. I never heard anyone argue that rote drill was an
>end in
>itself. On the other hand, I have testified before several local boards of
>education for them to allow their teachers to keep and occasionally use
>their
>aging Addison-Wesley, Holt or whatever, instead of removing them to the
>dumpster as mandated by their district math gurus (always on behalf of
>parents
>who were fronting for teachers who dared not speak for themselves). Seems
>that
>MathLand's workshops - with lots of district buy-in - had made it very
>clear
>that any tainting of God's Word with the blasphemous past would cause the
>MathLand to fail. In fact, there's still a core of true believers out
>there
>who credit the failure of MathLand in California to exactly that, pursuing
>the
>middle ground you support. There are two extreme positions possible but
>the
>one often credited to Mathematically Correct has never been supported by
>it.
>
>Wayne.
> ---------------------------------------------------
>
>At 07:37 PM 7/21/00 -0700, RayM wrote:

> >Pretty mild response, Mike. Actually, I have a serious question. Was
>the
> >Saxon used by itself in place of the Mathland and Connected Math or was
>it
> >used as "supplementation". If they were in fact used together, this data
> >could lend support to my contention that there is a middle ground that
> >performs better than either extreme.
> >Wayne?
> >
> >
> >
> >----------

> >> From: Michael Paul Goldenberg <michaelpaulgoldenberg@hotmail.com>
> >> To: amte@esunix.emporia.edu
> >> Subject: Re: A Case History from the Silicon Valley
> >> Date: Thursday, July 20, 2000 21:21
> >>
> >>
> >> If I were to post a similarly anonymous anecdote in which the success

> >were
> >> attributed to "fuzzy" textbooks triumphing nobly over the evils of
>Saxon,
> >
> >> WWBD (What Would Bishop Do?)
> >>

> >> >From: "RayM" <raypublk@san.rr.com>
> >> >Reply-To: amte@esunix.emporia.edu
> >> >To: <amte@esunix.emporia.edu>
> >> >Subject: Re: A Case History from the Silicon Valley
> >> >Date: Thu, 20 Jul 2000 20:14:54 -0700
> >> >
> >> >Sounds like someone should start building a document package for the
> >> >district administration. Initially it could be used for a reprimand.

> >In
> >> >the long run, good documentation is essential for an uncontestable
> >> >dismissal.
> >> >
> >> >----------

> >> > > From: Wayne Bishop <wbishop@calstatela.edu>
> >> > > To: AMTE <amte@esunix.emporia.edu>
> >> > > Subject: A Case History from the Silicon Valley
> >> > > Date: Thursday, July 20, 2000 06:12
> >> > >
> >> > > <snip>
> >> > > Anyway, my district officially does Mathland K-5 and Connected Math

> >for
> >> > > sixth and seventh graders with no district wide supplementation.
>So,
> >two
> >> > > years ago I convinced the fifth grade teacher at the high
> >socioeconomic
> >> > > elementary school in my district to use Saxon. She let the kids do
> >Saxon
> >> > > at their mastery level. These kids came from the group testing
>around
> >> >75th
> >> > > percentile, and their scores went to the 86th percentile in math
> >after
> >> >one
> >> > > year of Saxon.
> >> > >
> >> > > Then, this past school year I was approached by site council

>members
> >and
> >> > > other teachers and I got Saxon for this year's fourth and fifth
> >> > > graders. Last year's fourth graders averaged about 77th percentile.

> >This
> >> > > year, after one year of Saxon (and as fifth graders) they tested in
> >the
> >> > > 90th percentile. (The principal who was initially hostile and
>rolled
> >his
> >> > > eyes whenever he saw me, now asks for help. But I am detested by
>the
> >> > > district administrators, as you can imagine)
> >> > >
> >> > > The fourth and fifth graders who used Saxon are the only group in

>our
> >> > > district to have scores at the 90th percentile (in any subject.)
> >> > > I have been to school board meetings and other meetings where I

>give
> >> > > presentations and where I am surrounded by my ethnically diverse
> >> >neighbors
> >> > > who support my point of view.
> >> > >
> >> > > In response to all of this, the administrators are writing their

>own
> >> >math
> >> >

> >> > > standards and recommending that the district ignore the state math
> >> >content
> >> > > standards.
> >> > > <snip>

> >>
> >>

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>


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