Some members of the listserv who do not have immediate access to the booklet "Everybody Counts" have asked for that document's definition of "mentally fit." So here it is, in the words of writer Lynn Arthur Steen:
"... workers who are mentally fit--workers who are prepared to absorb new ideas, to adapt to change, to cope with ambiguity, to perceive patterns, and to solve unconventional problems. It is these needs, not just the need for calculation (which is now done mostly by machines), that make mathematics a prerequisite to so many jobs. More than ever before, Americans need to think for a living; more than ever before, they need to think mathematically."
So, the question (from an earlier posting) then becomes: how do we prepare students to become these kind of workers?
And, because a number commented on remediation, here is the document's concluding paragraph on that topic:
"Despite massive effort, relatively little is accomplished by remediation programs. No one--not educators, mathematicians, or researchers--knows how to reverse a consistent early pattern of low achievement and failure. Repetition rarely works; more often than not, it simply reinforces previous failure. The best time to learn mathematics is when it is first taught; the best way to teach mathematics is to teach it well the first time."
Among other things, I believe this points to the critical importance of quality mathematics curriculum, instruction, and assessment in early childhood education.
On Wednesday I'll post the questions for Chapter 2 of Everybody Counts.
Ron Ward/Western Washington U/Bellingham, WA 98225 firstname.lastname@example.org