I, for one, would not necessarily object to what Kim suggests. But, it seems like many so-called Standard-based curricula get criticized for not 'proven' to work empirically and using students as guinea pigs. [Whether or not that accusation is true is another issue.] I don't know if this "Japanese" approach is the reason their students do so much better than ours.
As for the approach Kim suggests, I think the biggest challenge would be to provide sufficient professional development opportunities for the teachers. Translation of textbooks and drill books will be simple enough. But, as Kim probably know very well, Japanese textbooks (and drill books) are written very concisely and leave quite a bit of room for the teachers. I don't know how long it would take before a group of teachers will be ready to start doing this, but without such a foundation, I don't think this approach is going to be too successful.
Tad Watanabe Towson University Towson, Maryland
On Tue, 16 Sep 1997, Kim Mackey wrote:
> > And speaking of provocative, let's try this one: top 50 percent of math > students in 6th grade go into prealgebra. In 7th grade they start using the > Japanese secondary math texts as translated into English, with all required > to use the drill books that Japanese students are required to have. 8th > grade, same. 9th grade, same. 10th grade they get their choice of classes > depending on their interest, but all students are required to take math at > the 10th grade level (precalc, statistics, favorite-reform-of-day, > whatever). After that, they can take math or not, depending on their > interest. I bet a lot would continue with their math studies. We would have > to overcome the not-invented-here syndrome, of course, but this might be an > easier sell than most due to the wide gap in math achievement by the > Japanese 8th graders versus US 8th graders. > > Would this take a lot of money? Sure. Money for training, money for > textbooks, money for administration. But since the Japanese have been very > successful with this curriculum, why not try it? Sure we won't get the same > results due to cultural factors, teacher proficiency differences, etc., but > it _is_ an idea, and it _could_ have some interesting results. Heck, someone > out there might be trying it already. > > regards, Kim Mackey >