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Topic: Word Problems
Replies: 27   Last Post: Aug 28, 1996 3:58 PM

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Kreg A. Sherbine

Posts: 26
Registered: 12/6/04
Interpretation/ was Word Problems
Posted: Aug 25, 1996 10:35 AM
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On Sun, 25 Aug 1996, Lou Talman wrote:

> Tad Watanabe wrote:
>

> > ...we are talking about our interpretations!
>
> Moreover, he wrote it in defense of the Standards. How can we call
> "Standards" a document that allows such varied interpretations?


Perhaps one of the biggest problems with the Standards is their name. I
went to a session in San Diego at which Mary Lindquist, Chair of the
Commission on the Future of the Standards, suggested this same idea.
Both Lou and Tad are right, I think: any document claiming to be, or to set,
a "standard" should be much less open to interpretation; and the
documents to which we refer must be open for widespread interpretation.

But beware: there are those (including me) who think that absolutely
everything is open to some sort of interpretation. Another way to say
this is that there is no such thing as "making sense." There is only
"making sense to me." (Tad seems to be of this thinking.) I find this
to be an especially useful approach to teaching: just because it makes
sense to me and to 29 of my 30 kids doesn't mean it makes sense to the
other kid.

In terms of the Standards, I claim that their intent makes sense to me
but not to Andre. Part of my sense-making has been to realize that the
Standards *aren't* standards, precisely because they explicitly try to
leave room for interpretation. I think that Andre would agree with
this. And it may be that this poor nomenclature is enough for Andre to
dismiss the Standards as nonsensical; that's OK with me, because when he
dismisses the Standards as nonsensical, I automatically realize that the
Standards are nonsensical *to him.*

This is the same as realizing that differentiating a trig function is
nonsensical to a seventh grader. (NOTE: I'm **NOT** suggesting that
Andre has a seventh grader's mentality.) What I'm saying is that most
seventh graders have no use for differentiating trig functions and that
they get along quite well, some of them superbly, without it. In the
same way, Andre has no use for the Standards and appears to get along
superbly without them. I find the Standards useful for organizing my
thinking about learning and teaching, and that is the context in which
they make sense to me.

Kreg A. Sherbine | To doubt everything or to believe
Apollo Middle School | everything are two equally convenient
Nashville, Tennessee | solutions; both dispense with the
sherbine@math.vanderbilt.edu | necessity of reflection. -H. Poincare






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