I'm wondering if anyone out there has taken Frank Allen's suggestion and had him send to you his comments to Jack Price about the NCTM Standards. I recently got a complete copy of the document from a friend and colleague who knows Mr. Allen. (I've never met him or talked to him.) I find much of what he says to be right on the mark, and I'm amazed that with all the opinions that fly around on nctm-l that very little has been said, either in favor or in opposition.
I have always felt (correctly or not) that it seemed as though the Standards had been handed down to us from the heavens, and that we were all to fall in line and begin to use this document to tell us how to better teach our students. The fact that few of the recommendations in the Standards are supported by research makes them very suspect. In addition, the lack of any professional mathematicians on the NCTM Board of Directors makes one question the entire direction of the NCTM.
Mr. Allen's questioning of the value of cooperative learning really made a point with me. I'm all in favor of using whatever method works best with the group of students you have in front of you, but the blind devotion to cooperative learning that seems to be in the Standards is something I find very worrisome. I have my own students do a lot of work together. This does not fit the precise definition of cooperative learning that the CL advocates would have me use, but my students are learning from me and from each other. However, they are entirely responsible for their own grade in my class. I have a lot of problems with giving "group grades". I've heard the argument that they need to learn the skill of working together in order to function in the business world once they leave us, but I'm not convinced that the mathematics classroom is the place for that.
There is a lot more that could be said, but this has gone on long enough. Sorry for the rambling nature of this note, but I thought it was time to get some discussion going on about what Mr. Allen has to say.
Bill Roloff Lake Park High School 500 W. Bryn Mawr Roselle, IL 60172