Realizing that commenting here can bring on sustained abuse, I still felt that I wanted to inject a few comments. Before doing so I will try to present some background that may help focus the ideas I wish to present. I was an early and enthusiastic supporter of the present mathematics reform movement, speaking at conferences and doing in-services as early as 82 (I think we called it the agenda for action back then). I continued to be very active until around 1992 or 93 when I first felt that the focus had somehow changed. I still practice and support many of the ideas that I feel were part of the "early reform " (a term I can not define in a short time) Over the next few years I tried to come to grips with my growing concerns over the direction of the reform movement. I believe that most math teachers involvement with the mathematics reform was primarily driven by a perceived lack of student acquired knowledge and understanding. The goals and motivation were predominantly to answer the eternal question, why can't Johnny (Joanie) count?
Since those early days when I felt that was the focus that was central to the NCTM reform, it has been integrated with other education reform movements with social goals and motivations totally apart from, and possibly at odds with, the acquisition of acquired knowledge and understanding of mathematics. Cooperative learning is one such example. My perception, founded or unfounded, is that there is a PC tone to the NCTM now. Despite lip service to teacher experimentation and independence, the tone is "We are right and they are wrong", and this moves us away from teacher empowerment and independence. I also see a change in the focus of grading policies which tends to denegrate acquired knowledge, the very measure which for years was used to trumpet the need for a new and better way of teaching and learning. I see stong suggestions for grading policies driven by a social vision rather than social history, of how people "ought to be" rather than how they are. I have observed a pressure for adoption of classroom management styles which produce manufactured success by approving everything, which supports nothing. This seems to make extra motivation, interest, or knowledge meaningless, and the lack of it acceptable. I think lots of people feel they would like to support part of the reform movement and still feel free to discuss the parts they feel are wrong without being lambasted with all the trite phrases. I would like to use John Saxon's books, augmented by the curriculum addenda series from NCTM and adapted with my own ideas about technology and visualization and concept development. I would like to feel that people who disagree can tell me about the ideas they think work well for them without bemoaning my lack of culture, courage, or common sense.
OK fire away, if I can't take it I know where the kill switch is located.