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Topic: elementary math
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Joan Reinthaler

Posts: 110
Registered: 12/6/04
elementary math
Posted: Oct 15, 1995 5:38 PM
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I am a highschool teacher who feels strongly that the math teaching
community ought to be putting most of its energies into trying to help
figure out how to get appropriate math education into the 4th - 6th
grades. By appropriate I mean a math education that challenges each kid,
that is broad, that solidifies skills as well as providing ongoing experiences
in solving a variety of problems, that teaches kids when *not* to use
calculators as well as when *to* use calculators, that promotes the
visulaization of mathematical relationships geometrically, that models the use
of correct mathematical vocabulary and, by doing so, enables kids to
incorporate this vocabulary into their thinking repertoire, and that
encourages kids to view their world mathematically as well as socially,
morally, poetically and historically.
Elementary teachers are, by necessity, generalists. Many (I
suspect, most) are not first of all mathematicians and most, in my
experience, are far more comfortable with language arts and social
studies than with math of any sort beyond basic arithmetic. Schools of
education routinely try to fill math gaps with math ed courses that
cannot make mathematical thinkers of those who never much liked math in
the first place. Schools that would never think of entrusting the
teaching of reading and writing to teachers whose reading and writing
skills were limited routinely put people who are mathematically limited
into the classroom to teach math to elementary students. It's not the
fault of the teachers. It is the fault of a system that expects every
teacher to teach everything.
We ought to fix the system. 4th - 6th grade classes ought to be
taught by pairs of teachers - a reading/ history teacher and a
math/science teacher, people who are specialists. IMHO that is where
money ought to go and the people who have complained about the futility
of "throwing money at the problem" ought to consider throwing money in
that direction.

Joan Reinthaler
Sidwell Friends School

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