R.O.N.G. ! but how to do right’?

Posted on October 15, 2016



“Why Math Education in the U.S. DOesn’t Add Up.”


It describes three approaches to doing math that researchers categorize people by — memorizers who’d do things over and over until the could do that, connectors who would try to relate problems to other ones, and “self monitoring” people who figured out what concepts they understood, etc.

It accuses our math teachers of focusing on memorizing procedures (hmmm… doesn’t say anything about tech stuff…)

Of course, the memorizers do worst of all … but not enough attention is given IMHO into how to make sure the attempt at teaching the other two doesn’t just stay as a “what do you wnat me to do? I’ll memorize it!”  Your best-intentioned lesson “for understanding” will turn into a survival lesson if it isn’t understandable.   (My biggest fear when I heard our guys were making a “math literacy” course was that they wouldn’t realize just how much had been memorized … but happily, they don’t assume students start with, say, a fluent grasp of ratio concepts… they build them with examples, examples and yes, ask students to put their understanding into words. )

THen there’s the “adaptive” tech so lauded which … guess what? Is pretty entirely focused on … memorized procedures.   Wish they’d talk about that.   Wish they’d hire me to help ’em design stuff that wasn’t 🙂

It’s just a short article, so I guess my title’s a little strong (I’m good at that, eh)  but it’s too easy to interpret this as “MEMORIZING IS WRONG!!!”   when … it’s not.   Practice is essential for most students.   Eliminating that part succeeds in “weeding out” the ones who need that part unless they have an outside resource that will fill in that gap (i.e., their parents will make it happen).  Include that visual grounding, but   Please, throw in a little ALEKS (especially with all that “short and sweet” division!)

(My Alg II Trig   and Mathematical Analysis teacher in high school would say “that’s r – o – n – g”   if something was wrong…)

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