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Math Education: An Inconvenient Truth

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M.J. McDermott shows different ways of solving the same multiplication and division problems. The old methods: standard algorithm & long division (commonly known by adults and those not living in the USA) and the new methods: partial products method, lattice method & partial quotients method.



Great work in breaking down

Great work in breaking down the pitfalls of "new math". Yes, this parent is correct in her assertions of how we, educators, teach math to our students. Her conclusions are right on; I don't need to repeat them here. The educational system has been taken over by big business and profit is their primary goal, not educating or preparing most of our students for what lies before them in the future. Again, I agree with her conclusion. Many of us, educators, will attest to those findings if we are being truthful to ourselves. Instead of finding ways of improving what generations upon generations have found to be very effective, we decided to experiment with our most precious resource, our childrens' intellect. The fact of the matter is that those that have an aptitude for mathematics will succeed, no matter what you throw at them. It is the majority of our student that will take the brunt of this "mis-education" system we have created. As a middle school math teacher I have seen the watering down of the standards time and time again, and our students are still failing to meet the challenges place upon them, on most part. Statistics have shown that most college students studying in the US and majoring in subjects where math is essential, are foreign born or second generation immigrant. Why is that? We have to face the fact that this little experiment we have been running has failed. There are programs running side by side with ours that have proven to continue to show great results. Take a program like KUMON math. It uses the "old" method and the results are off the charts. Their students excels. We have to stop this nonsense of thinking that newer is better. It is not always the case. Why don't we focus on teaching mastery of the fundamentals and worry about enrichment later, when the students have greater confidence in what they are doing. The only reason some adults find that these "new" method make sense or are useful is because of the vast experience and understanding we had in doing it using the "old" methods. Since we have been "there" already, the road to getting there again is a lot smoother, clearer, and interesting.

While I commend this parent

While I commend this parent for wanting to be involved, she is very narrow minded. In the past most students went through school learning algorithms, but never understanding the beauty of mathematics; consequently, most would tell you that math was their worst subject. Many of the things they learned they do not remember because they were never given the opportunity to explore, make connections, and gain the understanding. This is why teachers complain that they are having to "re-teaching" the same things each year. The alternative that is presented at the end of the video has just as many downfalls as the text she is fighting against. Good teachers are aware that all children learn differently and therefore varying approaches are needed within a single class. Mathematics SHOULD be about teaching for understanding. Good teachers start with learning tasks that promote understanding of a concept, allow students to explore, discuss and make connections and work towards the most efficient computation methods or algorithms. For a person to condone one without the other would be cheating our students.

I didn't know anything could

I didn't know anything could be more inefficient and cumbersome than EDM. Glendale Unified School District has been using it for the past ten or twelve years. It has some excellent activities like the human pie graph in fifth grade. It's fraction instruction is confusing and useless. A lot of us close the door and teach the tried and true algorithms. Give us credit for knowing what works.