More math teaching experiments

By Murray Bourne, 06 Jun 2006

Dallas Morning News education writer Holly Hacker in a recent article National panel pursues formula for excellence in teaching math (link no longer available) describes yet another attempt by the Americans to improve mathematics standards. This time it is a panel of experts appointed by George Dubya and led by Larry Faulkner.

Two extremes of math education are described:

  • Drill and kill ("Do these 100 exercises and get them right before you can go to lunch")
  • Constructivism ("Solve these problems and discover algebra in the process")

Faulkner (rightly) is trying to address these opposing views by proposing a "Common Ground" initiative, where both approaches have a place in mathematics education.

Hacker also mentions the success of the Singapore model for teaching mathematics. Ah yes, but would it translate into the US model of individualism over group goals, dumming down of society over regarding education as the key to success and spending a minimum on education over spending adequately on education?

Oprah Winfrey has also picked up on this theme of education spending. According to an expert on her show, spending on one student in school is 1/4 of the spend on that person if they are in prison. This is significant because the majority of incarcerated persons are high school dropouts. But I digress.

The great education experiment continues in a school near you...

See the 4 Comments below.

4 Comments on “More math teaching experiments”

  1. Li-sa says:

    We (students) are white described in Hong Kong on the issue of education reforms.

  2. Murray says:

    Tell me more, Li-sa, about your "white mice" feelings. What educational experiments are you aware of and what is your opinion about them?

  3. Li-sa says:

    Take the TSA (Territory-wide Assessment), which started in 2006, as an example. It assesses Chinese Language, English Language and Math.
    There are three stages altogether.
    1st stage: For Primary 3 students, Primary 1 to 3 Chinese, English and Math are assessed.
    2nd stage: For Primary 6 students, Primary 4 to 6 Chinese, English and Math are assessed.
    3rd stage: For F.3 students, F.1 to F.3 Chinese, English and Math are assessed.

    I am studying in F.3 currently. To most of my classmates, it's a bit stressing to revise something that's learnt and forgotten before, but I actually find it rather good. Harder Chinese, English and Math will be taught in F.4 and F.5. Without the foundation, how can the house stand? Ironically, quite a lot of my classmates forget what they have learnt in previous years.

    Personally, I think this is a good experiment, though not many like it.

    This is just a case in point. I'll tell you more when I find the time.

  4. Murray says:

    The following is very common, Li-sa:

    "Ironically, quite a lot of my classmates forget what they have learnt in previous years."

    Most students see learning as simply surviving the next test - and immediately forgetting everything once out the door.

    Now - one has to question where they get that thinking from...

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