Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Brief history of math teaching

The world is changing rapidly and the curriculum and instruction must constantly adapt to changing conditions. What is relevant today is hopelessly obsolete tomorrow. Forget about what was relevant yesterday. We cannot yet even imagine the challenges posed by the 21th century. Fortunately, educationists are always on the cutting edge and can safely guide us through any upheaval and vicissitudes.

This brief history of math teaching can only serve to reinforce our confidence in educationist wisdom:

Teaching Math In 1950 - A logger sells a truckload of lumber for
$100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit?

Teaching Math In 1960 - A logger sells a truckload of lumber for
$100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his
profit?

Teaching Math In 1970 - A logger sells a truckload of lumber for
$100. His cost of production is $80. Did he make a profit?

Teaching Math In 1980 - A logger sells a truckload of lumber for
$100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your
assignment: Underline the number 20.

Teaching Math In 1990 - By cutting down beautiful forest trees, the
logger makes $20. What do you think of this way of making a living?

Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did
the forest birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down the trees.
(There are no wrong answers.)

Teaching Math In 2005 – Un leñador vende una carga de madera por $100. El costo de producción es.........

UPDATE: For a real history of math instruction see
David Klein's superb article linked here.

10 comments:

NYC Educator said...

Querido Sr. Instructivist:

Estoy bien disillusionado que usted no termino con el ejemplo. Quiero ver la terminacion, por favor.

Tuve mi calculadora completamente lista, y no sirvio para nada, goshdarn it!

Catherine Johnson said...

OK, now you've got me feeling guilty that my Spanish is so rusty.

NYC Educator said...

I wouldn't worry too much. Your Spanish is probably better than my math.

Instructivist said...

"Estoy bien desilusionado que usted no termino con el ejemplo. Quiero ver la terminacion, por favor."

2"#$°!"#$%&/()=?

¡Qué macana! Metí la pata. Pero como ves, ya no hace más falta que se hagan los cálculos.

EdWonk said...

Estamos escribiendo en espanol? Viviamos en Mexico por siete anos. Entonces he aprendido unas palabras. Nuestra hija, "The TeenWonk" fue nacido alli.

Como escriben los acentos? No se como tocar el teclado.

Instructivist said...

¡Qué fascinante!

De repente todo el mundo está escribiendo en español.

Hacer los acentos es bien fácil. Con Windows hay que ir a Control Panel. Ahí se selecciona Keyboard y Language (en ese caso español). Eso cambia la configuración del teclado. Uno puede volver al inglés on the fly, como se dice tan bien en inglés.

Puedo dar instrucciones más específicas si hace falta.

Muchísimas gracias también, don EdWonk, por haberme incluído en el Carnaval.

NYC Educator said...

A quick way to get the Spanish characters up is to write in Word, label the text as Spanish, and allow Word to correct your spelling. Of course, that has the same problem as spell-check does for many of my students--if your misspelled word happens to be the correct spelling of another, you're screwed.

As is anyone who relies on the grammar checker. I learned functional English grammar before third grade. My boss, Chancellor Klein, wants the kids to reach deeply within their collective cosmic consciousness, hold hands, close their eyes, and then teach one another.

No wonder his kids didn't go to public school.

Instructivist said...

"A quick way to get the Spanish characters up is to write in Word, label the text as Spanish, and allow Word to correct your spelling. Of course, that has the same problem as spell-check does for many of my students--if your misspelled word happens to be the correct spelling of another, you're screwed."

That's an interesting way. I haven't thought of it. But it has limitations as you point out.

Doing the real stuff isn't all that hard with Windows. (Contol Panel -> Keyboard -> Language). The toggle feature makes it easy to switch back and forth between languages.

NYC Educator said...

I'm a little lazy with Spanish. I enjoy speaking, but can't write with nearly as much precision as English.

The only time I'm careful of accents in Spanish is on the rare occasions when I'm forced to teach it. Otherwise it's stored in some faraway attic of my mind.

Anyway, your orignal post was very funny!

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