What and how to teach math?

By Murray Bourne, 30 Dec 2005

The debate continues. In Connecticut, Dept of Education math consultant Dr. Charlene Tate-Nichols stirred up a public meeting on the teaching of mathematics. The usual things were aired, like:

Kids today use calculators and when you use a calculator, you're divorced from the numbers.

One guy trots out the Singapore mathematics model:

Noting that Singapore has the best math students on the planet, he asked Dr. Tate-Nichols, "Why don't you just take the Singapore program or the program for another country and use it?"

Quite rightly, Tate-Nichols pointed out that it is not as simple as that. I have written elsewhere my thoughts on Singapore math, after experiencing the results of it for several years.

Part of the debate in the meeting centred around whether it is more important to teach concepts or mathematical facts and whether there is enough time to do justice to either.

An important related issue is:

... much more professional development is needed for teachers

Yes- the cycle of bad mathematics experiences is best broken at the teacher level.

[The original article is no longer available.]

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