>>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 algorithms?
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 time.)
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 quickly.
>>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 CHILDREN in the PUBLIC SCHOOLS who need BETTER MATHEMATICS is not about 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 mathematics.......