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Topic: nctm: The Standards at the college level
Replies: 8   Last Post: Feb 28, 1995 9:16 AM

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Rick Simon

Posts: 13
Registered: 12/6/04
Re: nctm: The Standards at the college level
Posted: Feb 25, 1995 12:32 PM
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> A certain mystique has developed around what Moore did but in its
> >simplest form, he expected students to solve significant problems. The
> >idea that "covering" some laundry list of topics is more important than
> >this is not a new one whether the time available is 10 weeks or 10 months.

> >It makes no more sense today than it did in the past to trip lightly over
> >many topics while doing nothing in depth.
> >Jack Roach <jroach@NeoSoft.com>

> Jack, I don't think that covering the material is spurned in the
> standards. ... Lastly, I want to know what is the big thing with
> covering the material? To whom is that important? Do you think the
> student cares whether they cover the material if they don't have a clue as
> to what is going on? I would have to think not.
> scott
> Scott Powell

No argument about the need to get away from the pressure of the syllabus. As
Susan Addington communicated to me in a private message, she really enjoys (as
do I) teaching a course where that is possible. That said, however, I want to
note that there is value at times in covering material:

1. When we teach a course as a service course for other disciplines, they may
need/want us to cover certain topics. What is often important to them is that
the students can "do" problems, not necessarily that they understand the
theory. (And after all, the NCTM standards are for math, not for other fields.
[tee hee])

2. My experience for myself and my students over the years has been that a
concept is often understood much better the 2nd or 3rd time it is encountered.
(Unless this turns out to be because a poor job was done of teaching it the 1st
time), that seems to argue for covering lots of stuff at the introductory
level so it might be understood better the next time.

3. Inertia. An object at rest or moving at a slow pace tends to continue in
that mode. Students are generally more than willing to go as slow as we allow.
By being concerned about covering a certain core, we have a natural counter
toward that tendency.

Note I speak of a "cerain core". The Murphy's Law of the syllabus expanding to
exceed the time allowed is true and should be repealed with vigor!

Rick Simon

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