Phonics and Math Wars
- April 24, 2000
The phonics & math wars have been raging for some time. On October 17, 1999, the Washington Post wrote an article stating:
The U.S. Department of Education last week declared Connected Math one of five 'exemplary' math programs. The American Association for the Advancement of Science rated it number one. The president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics helped write it, and the National Science Foundation backs it financially.
But it also was rejected by California for failing to meet the state's rigorous new back-to-basics standards. Mathematically Correct, a parents group with a commanding presence on the Internet, gave it an F. And 600 parents in Texas are suing their school district for giving students no other choice.
...and a January, 2000, article in the Wall Street Journal:
...today's New Math has powerful allies. Education secretary Richard Riley and other Clintonites smile on it. Eight of the 10 curriculums recently recommended for nationwide use by an influential Education Department panel teach the New New Math.
Consider MathLand, which won a 'promising' rating from the panel. Its literature says it focuses on 'attention to conceptual understanding, communication, reasoning and problem solving.' This sounds harmless, but consider: MathLand does not teach standard arithmetic operations. No carrying and borrowing at the blackboard here. Instead, children are supposed to meet in small groups and invent their own ways to add, subtract, multiply and divide. This detour is necessary, the handbook informs, to spare youngsters the awful subjugation of 'teacher-imposed rules.'
Next comes Connected Math, another panel favorite. It too skips or glosses over crucial skills. Example: The division of fractions, an immutable prerequisite for algebra, is absent from its middle-school curriculum. In shutting the door to algebra, David Klein of Cal State Northridge points out, 'Connected Math also closes doors to careers in engineering and science for its graduates.'
Finally there is Everyday Math. No textbooks here, either. Everyday Math ensures juvenile dependency to calculators by endorsing their use from kindergarten. Rather than teach long division, the program devotes substantial time to that important area of math study, self-esteem."Apparently the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the U.S. Department of Education were basing their recommendations on no hard data at all. (Not surprising to most good math teachers!)
Taken from: ED-NEWS
Education Weekly On-Line
From:April 21, 2000