LOGO-L> MATH EXPERIMENT PROVOKES PARENTAL REBELLION

I'd like to go back to the original thread here.

Quote:

> The only thing that's "fuzzy" about the newer approaches is that they

*start*

> where the kids are, building toward a more solid understanding. But the

goal

> is the same as it's always been -- for kids to become competent at using

math.

I confess I don't know what happens in most classrooms that try to use a

constructivist approach to math. But the New York Times article that Dale

referenced

(http://www.nytimes.com/library/national/regional/042700ny-math-edu.html)

has a few disturbing paragraphs. It gives the impression the courses are

truly fuzzy:

'Wilfried Schmid, a professor of mathematics at Harvard, became a critic of

constructivist programs after his daughter, Sabina, began using one of them,

TERC Investigations in Number, Data and Space, at her elementary school in

Lincoln, Mass. When she started second grade last fall, Sabina knew how to

carry tens and add two-digit numbers, Mr. Schmid said. Sabina's teacher, who

is well-intentioned but too inexperienced to deviate from the program, Mr.

Schmid said, told the child that she was not allowed to use this method; she

had to demonstrate her work with blocks or by counting on her fingers.

"So Sabina is reduced to drawing 39 little men to solve problems like

39-14," her father said. '

As Chuck wrote maybe it is the teachers that are the critical factor and not

the pedagogic approach. And when teachers don't understand something well

then it isn't surprising that things go wrong.

And here's another quote:

'But some parents are insulted by them. Ms. Weinberg, a dentist, said she

was

appalled when her daughter, Kelly, a sixth grader at East Side Middle

School, came home with assignments to write her math autobiography and to

write about her favorite number. "She was being graded on grammar and

spelling," Ms. Weinberg said.'

I'm not convinced either that writing about "favorite numbers" is a way to

learn math. Nor is it clear how constructivist it is.

(Now writing about the smallest uninteresting number - that is fun. Since it

is interesting property of a number that it is the smallest uninteresting

number. Does this contradiction imply all numbers are interesting?)

Best,

-ken