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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