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Topic: NCTM C&E Stds VI--K-4 Focus (March 21)
Replies: 1   Last Post: Mar 24, 1996 12:30 PM

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Kreg A. Sherbine

Posts: 26
Registered: 12/6/04
Re: NCTM C&E Stds VI--K-4 Focus (March 21)
Posted: Mar 24, 1996 12:30 PM
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Regarding Assumption 4 (the real-world applicability of math):
I'd like a Standards definition of what exactly the real world is. For a
third-grader who's got at least nine more years of eight-hour school days
ahead of her, I would hesitate to suggest that school, and the math we do
there, is *not* a major part of the real world.

This is related to Ron's suggestion that teaching at this level may be
appropriately couched in terms of a "fantasy world," a la Flatland or
MathMagicLand or any number of "made-up" situations which facilitate the
math at hand.

We should remember, though, that there's a subtle distinction between
doing math in a "made-up" context and creating the impression that there
is no relationship between the math done in school and the math waiting
to be done, either out of school or in later school math settings. It
would not be helpful to have to phrase *everything* in terms of some
bizarre-sounding alternative reality. At least not 'til grad school. ;-)

Nevertheless, and even though it most often comes at moments of boredom
rather than moments of inquiry, the question, "When are we ever gonna
have to use this stuff?" smacks of truth and of a challenge to those of
us who have decided that it *is* useful to be able to do math. There's a
paradox emerging here, namely that of luring kids into math with its
applicability and then asking them to be patient while we do the grunt
work necessary to keep math applicable, but I suspect that this paradox
can be resolved with a healthy and thoughtful balance of math applied to
non-school situations with math done in a fantasy world.

Kreg A. Sherbine | To doubt everything or to believe
Apollo Middle School | everything are two equally convenient
Nashville, Tennessee | solutions; both dispense with the
sherbine@math.vanderbilt.edu | necessity of reflection. -H. Poincare







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