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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