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Topic: UNCLE!
Replies: 14   Last Post: Nov 22, 1995 1:39 AM

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Rebecca Corwin

Posts: 32
Registered: 12/6/04
Posted: Nov 19, 1995 9:09 AM
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Reply to: RE>>UNCLE!

This addresses my concerns, as well.

Doris Dunham writes:

>>I hardly read clear through the remarks of
some of the persons who clearly have to be THE last word on any topic, even
if they don't know anything about it.
A lot of it seems to be the latest "mumbo jumbo" with the standard cliches
and buzz words thrown in.<<

This is my perception, also, Doris (et al). A reasonable reform movement
does NOT pretend it has all the answers. I teach an elementary methods
course, and I've worked on projects with teachers for years and years. The
one thing I know is that teaching is a very complex interaction, and it
requires something more than *needing to be correct* to succeed, at least
with most students, and with most teachers and teachers-to-be.

The tone of most of these list interactions seems to be a need to be correct
rather than an interest in (at least one) topic at hand--how can we make the
mathematics that's taught to k-12 children more appropriate for their
life-long interest in the field and their learning something more than

Frankly, I detect no interest in that question on the part of some list
participants. Rather, they are quite likely to overlook the main point of
someone's statement, go down the narrowest of tiny alleys, correct people's
use of words, ignore complexities, and reduce anyone's statement to being
CORRECTED in the exact kind of way high school and college mathematics
teachers do. (Once I got a point off of a math test that I'd gotten 100%
correct because I got the date wrong. This list feels like that a lot of the

If we are all interested in reforming the teaching of mathematics, probably
the most counterproductive thing we can do is to alienate the k-12 (and many
university) people. If we are interested in conversation, then
hypercorrection is the worst way to proceed. It silences most people quite

>>The discussions here all seem to be so theoretical and not at all directed
toward making the education of our students more effective. Perhaps, some of
the difference is that most of those who work at the university setting have
not been in K-12 classrooms recently. Those of us in K-12 classrooms often
feel that we are despised as those "distant cousins who won't go away."<<

Yes, you're being treated that way. I worry about it. I actually would
extend it to "anyone who's really involved with children's mathematical
learning", not just K-12.

Doris, my perception is that this discussion is NOT theoretical [although it
is often very abstract]. It is hostile-corrective. Occasionally a voice
that takes theory into account is heard. A truly theoretical discussion
about teaching can actually rest on the kind of theory that is appropriate in
a discussion about teaching--i.e., dare I suggest, learning theory and
educational theory. However, because some folks are only interested in being
correct, those are attacked as having no validity. [I wish I could declare
everything that I don't know as invalid, but I don't take that position.]
There's a very robust theoretical basis for the learning principles that are
being explored by the few brave souls who persevere. But it's ignored, and
so, by extension, are the people who are interested in them (like you, like
me, like many.)

>>Perhaps it would be better to have two nctm lists: one for the
college/university group and one for the K-12 group.<<

I personally wouldn't know which to participate in, since I was a fifth grade
teacher for nine years and now a college prof for twenty-four. My heart is
in the classroom, always.

It would really be a sad sign if this kind of discourse drove the k-12 people
off. (It's about to drive me off, I have to add.) The education of the
bashing their teachers. It's about paying attention to what's happening in
the schools and trying to think about helping teachers make sense of the
requisite reforms. This is NOT a simple situation, and is NOT about a few
people being correct. It's about a national conversation that may not best
be construed as win-lose, right-wrong. This damnable Rightness and MORAL
CORRECTNESS being exhibited does not seem to me to be in the spirit of any
kind of productive talk or thought.

Rebecca Corwin
Lesley College
Cambridge, MA
.....a professor who is very interested in learning and teaching elementary

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