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Topic: New Discussion Group
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Michael Paul Goldenberg

Posts: 365
Registered: 12/6/04
New Discussion Group
Posted: Jun 5, 2001 10:38 AM
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> There is a new discussion group on
> A description of the groups' purposes follows:
> A group for administrators, department chairs, mathematicians,
> parents, researchers, teachers), teacher educators, and other
> stakeholders to discuss mathematics teaching and learning from
> the perspective of the reform initiatives centering around, but
> not restricted to the NCTM Standards volumes from 1989 to the
> present. Similar efforts originating outside of the US (e.g.,
> in the Netherlands, Australia, and other centers of progressive
> reform) are also fair game. Main lines of discussion will likely
> be on issues of teaching, implementing, supporting, and improving
> specific curricula and related pedagogical approaches, including
> the use of technology; and issues from the user's perspective (e.g.,
> how do I better help my child benefit from this kind of teaching?)
> Anyone interested in joining should consider the following:
> First, please read the description of this group to be sure
> that it is a forum you wish to become involved with. Then read
> what follows to be certain that you feel comfortable with its

> before requesting to be added to the group.
> The moderator believes that there are many public and
> private forums available for those who are strongly and consistently
> opposed to the kinds of curricula and pedagogy that
> will be discussed here. This is not and will not
> be allowed to become under any circumstances another
> such forum. Those seeking an outlet for such opinions
> are, obviously, welcome to join any or all open discussion lists,
> but this is not a place for such attacks.
> In keeping with the above, it is expected that participants seek
> to offer and benefit from CONSTRUCTIVE criticism of teaching and
> curricula.
> To distinguish this approach from what has often been the case in
> public lists,
> consider these examples of what would and would not be acceptable:
> ACCEPTABLE: I am teaching using the [name of
> NCTM-Standards based or philosophically-similar
> curriculum] and am not happy with the way [a given
> topic; or a particular unit; or a specific problem,
> etc.] is handled. Has anyone else found this to be
> problematic? I have a suggestion/Does anyone have a
> suggestion as to how this can be improved. [similar
> posts can be offered regarding technology, cooperative
> learning, etc.; parents or other stakeholders could
> certainly raise criticisms, questions, complaints,
> suggestions, etc., in a similar manner].
> UNACCEPTABLE: I taught/my child's teacher taught [name
> of unit, name of curriculum] and it's dreadful! I'm
> outraged that this [epithet] is being offered to kids
> in place of REAL math! No one should use it. Ever!
> Also, the [epithet] who wrote praising this program is
> an [epithet] and should be fired/shot/tortured/made to
> stand next to an insurance salesman, etc. Oh, and I
> heard that three families using this program got
> [dread disease] and their heads exploded from using
> it.
> It is to be hoped that the fundamental differences between
> acceptable and unacceptable posts is obvious.
> Acceptable posts are specific, do not attempt to make
> universal claims for what everyone or no one should do,
> are directed towards making improvements and
> modifications, or towards gaining or offering
> understanding. Personal attacks, unattributed
> anecdotes, absolutist claims, are not acceptable.
> NO PERSONAL ATTACKS: If you and one or more other
> members wish to attack one another personally, do it
> elsewhere. Period.
> It is inevitable in a list such as this one is
> proposed to be, and in the current politically charged
> atmosphere of the Math Wars, that individuals who have
> not already been screened out based on long histories
> of disruptive and unproductive behavior on other lists
> (or those same people disguising themselves with false
> names and untraceable e-mail addresses), will be able
> to join this list. Thus, participants, while invited to
> speak frankly within list guidelines, are warned that
> it would be impossible to guarantee 100%
> privacy, even were extraordinary precautions taken. Thus,
> assume that whatever you post here could show up elsewhere.
> Nonetheless, the following provisions will be in effect:
> a) no one may copy messages from this list, other than
> those in which only their words or normal quotations
> from outside sources are contained, without the
> express permission from other list members whose words
> appear in the post(s) in question. That is to say, you
> may print out and distribute anything you post here,
> but need permission from the writer in order to
> copy someone else's words in any way outside of this
> list.
> b) people who violate rules will be warned. Once. We all
> make mistakes. Repeated violations will be interpreted as
> intentional and will result in permanent removal from the list.
> c) for the time being, all posts will pass through the moderator.
> As stated above, it is impossible to guarantee that no one can make
> use of what is posted here in ways that violate the rules, but it
> is possible to insure that no post will violate those rules. It
> is hoped that this list will become very active. Should that happen,
> it will be unlikely that every post can be screened. So a

> goal is the creation of a discourse community whose members are
> individually and collectively strong enough to withstand an

> post that is not in the spirit of the rules. When it seems that this

> goal
> has been reached, screening will be suspended.
> TO JOIN: go to

I am sure that this announcement will provoke controversy and
I have frequently explained in several venues why I have decided to
create this
group and why I am doing so in the manner stated above. Specifically,
who have made it their avocation, if not their full-time job, to
any constructive
discourse about mathematics education reform will claim that this
approach violates their civil rights
(as if there were no right to private discussion in this country!);
ironically, some of these
same individuals have their own private discussion lists which ban
anyone who wishes
to express favorable views of progressive education.

A second line of attack against this new group will likely be that
anyone who joins it is playing
'deaf, dumb, and blind'; this falls flat when one considers how long
many of us have struggled (and continue to struggle)
with these same individuals. Again, no one is obligated to engage in
discourse s/he finds offensive or unproductive. And, of course, no one

is obligated to
join this new group.

However, the past seven or so years have demonstrated that little of
value can be
accomplished on a list in which there are both diametrically opposed
views and
people who have no interest in listening to or taking seriously views
with which they
disagree. I'm sure that some people reading this will continue to read

or participate
actively in other lists. There is no reason why they should not. I
however, that
people who recognize the need for a different kind of discussion among

of good will who are serious about helping the progressive movement in

education go forward will enjoy the opportunity to interact without
of being
attacked for supporting that movement.

I look forward to seeing you at



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