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Topic: [math-learn] The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives -
Response to Greeno

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Richard Hake

Posts: 1,218
From: Woodland Hills, CA 91367
Registered: 12/4/04
[math-learn] The Needless War Between Traditionalists And Progressives -
Response to Greeno

Posted: Aug 30, 2012 4:11 PM
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In response to my post "Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between
Traditionalists And Progressives," Clyde Greeno (2012) posted on
Math-Teach (ellipses in the original):

"The perception that there are two competing extremes . . . . . and
the conjectured need for finding a compromising middle ground . . . .
. manifest a myopia that persists among educators who focus on those
extremes. In reality, those extremes represent two sides of a single
coin. The need is not for 'compromise' or for 'finding a middle
ground', but for perceiving the entire coin . . . . . by more
globally integrating appropriate ingredients from each aspect."

That there WERE IN FACT two competing extremes in the 1900's is clear
from Bickman's (2003) "Los Angeles Times" OpEd piece [paraphrasing
for brevity; bracketed by lines "bbbbb. . . ."]:

bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb
"John Dewey . . . . . 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.
bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb

That there ARE IN FACT two competing extremes in the 2000's, is clear
to anyone with enough courage to peruse the Math Forum archives and
scan, e.g., the posts of traditionalist math warriors Bishop at
<http://bit.ly/PA20Xl>, "Haim" at <http://bit.ly/NzeJz3>, Hansen at
<http://bit.ly/i97kYY>, and Wurman at <http://bit.ly/Oz2g9w>.

Greeno wrote: "In reality, those extremes represent two sides of a
single coin. The need is not for 'compromise' or for 'finding a
middle ground', but for perceiving the entire coin . . . . . by more
globally integrating appropriate ingredients from each aspect."

I DISAGREE WITH GREENO'S IMPLICATION THAT "'FINDING A MIDDLE GROUND"-
SEE THE SIGNATURE QUOTES BY DEWEY, SCHOENFELD, AND SOWDER - IS
NECESSARILY AN INDICATION OF MYOPIA.

As indicated in my post [Hake (2012)], John Dewey DID, in fact,
"perceive the entire coin by more globally integrating appropriate
ingredients from each aspect." I cite Bickman (2003) who wrote:

"Dewey in a crucial 1902 article, 'The Child and the Curriculum'
[Dewey (1902)] at <http://bit.ly/QsVuHi>, CONCEPTUALIZED EACH
POSITION SO THAT IT WOULD NO LONGER SEEM A MATTER OF THE CHILD VERSUS
THE CURRICULUM."

And in my complete post at <http://bit.ly/Pup0Nb> I wrote [bracketed
by lines "HHHH. . . .":

HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
John Dewey (1902) in "The Child and the Curriculum" concluded in his
next to last paragraph [EMPHASIS in the original]:

"How, then, stands the case of child vs. Curriculum? What shall the
verdict be? The radical fallacy . . . . . . . is the supposition that
we have no choice save either to leave the child to his own unguided
spontaneity or to inspire direction upon him from without. Action is
response; it is adaptation, adjustment. There is no such thing as
sheer self-activity possible-because all activity takes place in a
medium, in a situation, and with reference to its conditions. But,
again, no such thing as imposition of truth from without, 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. Now, the value of the formulated wealth of
knowledge that makes up the course of study is that it may enable the
educator to DETERMINE THE ENVIRONMENT OF THE CHILD, and thus by
indirection to direct. Its primary value, its primary indication, is
for the teacher, not for the child. It says to the teacher: such and
such are the capacities, the fulfillments, in truth and beauty and
behavior, open to these children. Now see to it that day by day the
conditions are such that THEIR OWN ACTIVITIES move inevitably in this
direction, toward such culmination of themselves. Let the child's
nature fulfill its own destiny, revealed to you in whatever of
science and art and industry the world now holds as its own."
HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH


Richard Hake, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Indiana University
Links to Articles: <http://bit.ly/a6M5y0>
Links to SDI Labs: <http://bit.ly/9nGd3M>
Academia: <http://bit.ly/a8ixxm>
Blog: <http://bit.ly/9yGsXh>
GooglePlus: <http://bit.ly/KwZ6mE>
Twitter <http://bit.ly/juvd52


"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."
- Judith Sowder (1998)

"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 should."
-Alan Schoenfeld (2004)


REFERENCES [All URL's shortened by <http://bit.ly/> and accessed on
30 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).

Bickman, M. 2004. "Won't You Come Home, John Dewey?" Los Angeles
Times, 20 July, p. B13. Originally meaningfully titled by Bickman
"THE NEEDLESS WAR BETWEEN TRADITIONALISTS AND PROGRESSIVES AND HOW TO
END IT," but changed by as editor to the snappy but senseless "Won't
You Come Home, John Dewey?" for a copy see the APPENDIX of Hake
(2004a) at <http://bit.ly/SoI0gw>.

Dewey, J. 1902. "The Child and the Curriculum" online at
<http://bit.ly/QsVuHi>, thanks to Project Gutenberg
<http://www.gutenberg.org/>. See also Dewey (2011).

Dewey, J. 2011. "The School and Society, The Child and the
Curriculum," with an introduction by Philip W. Jackson. Originally
published in 1956. Seven Treasures Publications. Amazon.com
information at <http://amzn.to/Pt1PTn>, note the searchable "Look
Inside" feature.

Greeno, C. 2012. "Re: Martin Bickman On The Needless War Between
Traditionalists And Progressives," online on the OPEN Math-Teach
archives at <http://bit.ly/O66TZp>.

Hake, R.R. 2004a. "Won't You Come Home, John Dewey?" online on the
OPEN AERA-J archives at <http://bit.ly/OF7DWF>. Post of 20 Juy 2004
20:58:22-0700 to AERA-J, Dewey-L, Math-Teach, PhysLrnR, POD, and
STLHE-L. The APPENDIX contains a copy of Bickman (2004) which was
originally titled more descriptively by the author "The Needless War
Between Traditionalists and Progressives and How to End It" - see
Hake (2004b).

Hake, R.R. 2004b. "The Needless War Between Traditionalists and
Progressives and How to End It" (was "Won't You Come Home, John
Dewey?" online on the OPEN AERA-J archives at
<http://bit.ly/Ptx232>. Post of 23 Jul 2004 15:06:14-0700 to AERA-J,
Dewey-L, Math-Teach, PhysLrnR, POD, and STLHE-L.

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
comments.

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