Monday, May 26, 2008

Math Wars: Ceasefire?

Well, I'll have to do a whole lot more googling to find out how this is going down across the pond, but I was very interested to come across a US government report on the teaching of Maths, sorry, Math in the US. Very, very thorough. I'm impressed, initially at least, by the high standards the contributors set for assessing or including research in their considerations, and can't help but think it's a much more rigorous piece of work than we have seen from (say) HMIe of late over here. Also, just look at the detail included in their recommendations for the content of what should be taught at each stage of school life, and compare it to the jelly on a stick candy floss fare of "Curriculum for Excellence" and ask yourself... are we even on the same planet?

It's quite a read - even a quick flick takes a wee while - but I'm struck by their good sense on the Math War business of "teacher-directed" versus "student-centred" approaches. Basically they say that you need both, and that any program (sic) based solely on one or the other is just plain dumb. Ah, the sweet voice of common sense! They also put out an urgent call for quality research into the effect of long-term calculator use, which again makes a whole lot of sense to me.

Quite what this means for current teaching programs in the US, I don't know. I'd be interested to hear if anyone has any news on this.

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