On 12/16/95 M. Goldenberg ask me this question: "---did the present state of mathematics nneducation, which you decry,come upon us out of the blue, or is it possible that folks in your generation had some small hand in this fall?" Let me try my best to answer this good question.
I go back to the 50's and 60's when I chaired the mathematics department at Lyons township high school in LaGrange, IL. I and my 30 colleagues in the math department had good students of all ability levels, who came from stable homes where parents encouraged their children to study and were generally supportive of our efforts to teach them. We deserved no credit for this ideal situation. Looking back I can see that we were just lucky, thats all. Nor do teachers in the field now deserve any blame for the unfortunate social changes which have,since then, created widespread situations in our schools which are severely deleterios to learning. Having taught math for 35 years in the high schools of Illinois, I identify with them. They need parental and community support which will send children to school in a condition to learn. I decry the NCTM's stubborn refusal to recognize this fact. Are we paying too high a price for being "Politically correct"? I decry teachers being told that curricular changes and the adoption of a omplicated,highly-subjective,time-consuming assessment system will bring substantial improvement to a situatiun caused by a deep-seated social malaise.. I think that they are doing a pretty good job when you consider the circumstances under which they work and I challenge their critics to do any better under those same circumctances.
I am helpless against the charge that this is an old man doting about the "Good old Days". Do you really believe that that is a sufficent reply?