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Q&A #963

Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Chicago Math program

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From: L. Cheung

To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Date: 2005070719:12:09
Subject: Re: Re: Everyday Math

It's almost comical to see so many of the messages here told of sons and daughters (or students) who are 'gifted or high achieving' in math UNTIL Chicago Math came around. Shouldn't 'gifted' in math means the ability to handle mathematical problem situations in a variety of manners? If your children/students are gifted only when they are asked to do a page full of computations, but not when there are real world problems that required analytical and flexibile thinking, then we might have a major difference in our definitions of what it means to be mathematically gifted. Mathematics is not computation. If you think that your child is learning math by learning computation procedures, you are living in the 18th century, back when those skills were possessed only by the mathematicians and the elite educated class. In the 21st century, a 5-digit number can be divided by a 10-digit divisor in a nanosecond using a $5 calculator. Do you want you child to spend the entire year in 4th grade learning to do that with paper and pencil? Or would you rather have your child learn to think logically, to analyze available information, and to devise a course of actions to solve problems? One takes about a year of repetitive practices to learn (as the traditional curriculum has shown us), the other takes a sustained on-going effort (the spiral approach) by well-trained teachers, starting from 1st grade and all the way through HS. Which one is easier and less 'frustrating' to learn? Parents who insisted that their children learning math the same way they learned it themselves 20 years ago are misguided at best.

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