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Q&A #6295


Changing approaches

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From: Roya (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: May 10, 2001 at 20:38:57
Subject: Re: Changing approaches

Hi Dan,

I posted your question on an internal board and Tom Hibbs had this to say:

"Dan,

Possibly you cannot keep up with the current texts that teach math
through a problem solving, constructive method where the student
concentrates on how the math relates to our world and his.  Since the
advent of computers and computer chips, the world of math applications
really is changing.  Some new math is solving problems that were
unapproachable before high powered computers were readily accessible
to the general work force.  

One of those areas is mathematical modeling and computational problem 
solving - maybe you think of it as scenario math.  Another has to do with 
the common spreadsheet and "what if" math.  These all need the student 
to "think algebraically" not to add polynomials or evaluate an expression 
given x=3.  We need students to learn the procedures, but they need to learn 
so much more.  When someone tells me that his father could multiply 36 x 42 
in his head quickly, my thought is "So what."  If that is all he can do, he
doesn't have a prayer of getting a job that requires a student to
develop a study that analyzes the effect of outliers on the data
statistics.  Why care?  The outliers are the newsworthy pieces of data
- the reporters dream.  The new texts are not soft.  They just don't
teach math the way you learned it and some of the math you learned
isn't relevant any more, and some of today's math was never studied. 
I'm older than you if you have a kid in Algebra 1, so this all applies
to math in my era.  I don't want our schools to go back to math as a
subject to weed out "poor" students and one of the most boring
subjects in school for most kids.  

You may not be able help your kid without learning some new tricks.
(Tom Hibbs is Regional Coordinator of MathStar, a program to improve
math achievement in middle schools.)"

 -Roya, for the T2T service


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