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Topic: Adding Fractions
Replies: 7   Last Post: Jul 18, 1997 12:55 PM

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Richard Fouchaux

Posts: 70
Registered: 12/6/04
Re: Sixth-Grade Test, April 1961
Posted: Jul 18, 1997 12:55 PM
  Click to see the message monospaced in plain text Plain Text   Click to reply to this topic Reply writes:
>Based on your descriptions, the New Ontario Curriculum for Mathematics
>appears to be quite sound. When I have the time I will examine the web
>that you gave.

Thank you for your acknowledgement--I look forward to hearing what you
think of it. My original post on the matter was phrased as a question
to the list i.e., "Do you think it achieves what it sets out to do?".
(Please note you'll need the Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the
electronic document).

>In my opinion, in order to implement sound reforms, it is important to
>understand exactly what has happened to mathematics education during
>past 40 years. In particular, as I mentioned before, a clear
>must be made between the K-12 pre- and post-Sputnik curricula. In the
>States, many self-styled reformers have lumped these curricula together
>refer to them as the "traditional curriculum." This twisted,
>distortion of history is intolerable.

I actually grew up in the 60's in Pennsylvania and had no trouble with
the "new math". I particularly enjoyed learning base two in grade 4 or
5, I think. I recall that it made a lot of things clear for me, not
least of which was that people made the rules of mathematics, and that,
at the symbolic level anyway, they could be changed if the change
suited a situation better.

However, I can never be certain whether such enlightening insights were
assisted more by what happened in the classroom or in my home
environment where my father, a physics professor at Lehigh, or my
mother, an elementary school teacher, were both very active in my
education. I mainly recall individual seat work in class back then,
but my teachers also employed group work and manipulatives, especially
in geometry. There were frequent short and informal quizzes--which
were always handed in and marked--but few long tests. I don't recall a
great deal of homework--but I do recall memorizing times tables and
drilling long division in class.

I agree with your comment in an earlier post that the reaction to
Sputnik was absurd--but that's easy to say in retrospect, having
witnessed the demise of communism from economic, not technological
factors. (The McCarthy era was far beyond absurd, and possibly more
damaging even than the new math! Ah, hindsight....) I think good
teachers are always trying to find better ways to do the job. I don't
think it's particularly helpful to label their efforts misguided,
unless one offers guidance in the next breath. Nothing points out the
need for change better than a fair assessment of the last 40 years. No
decade should be off limits when looking for things of value to our
cause, but we must remember that we are seeking methods for the 21st

Best regards,

Richard Fouchaux
Music 6-8; Math 7
Milne Valley M. S.
North York, ON, CA

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