Here is an account from the frontlines of what is not happening in a high school math class. The account relates the experiences of a student in a math class in which the teacher won't teach. It was posted at Kitchen Table Math, a lively math site that has been called "the hippest online math ed community in the known universe."
Hello, my name is Colin Johnston and in this post I will describe the horrors of high school algebra.As Colin says, why not just take this class at home, over the internet? Maybe constructivists are on to something and this is the wave of the future. It would help save hundreds of billions spent on "education."
On the first day of my junior year, I stepped into my math class. I will leave names out so as not to offend anyone. I had heard mixed reviews about the math teacher that I would have this year, but people generally said he was a pretty good teahcer. As the bell rang, the class sat down and waited patiently for him to enter the room. He slowly stepped into the classroom. He looked like a smart enough guy. He then passed out the textbooks and walked to the front of the classroom. He began talking about the curriculum we would cover this year, his grading scale, etc. He then said something, however, that didn't go down as easily as the other things he had mentioned. He said "You kids have been told how to do everything in your math careers. That is, up until now. This year, you are going to learn how to teach yourselves."
What? Then why don't we just take this class at home, over the internet? What is the point of having a teacher that doesn't teach? I made these same arguments to my friend after class, but he just shruged it off. "It will probably get better as the year goes on." He said. I guess I would give it a shot.
But as this year has gone on, things have gotten worse if anything. Now, the norm for the class is come in, sit down, spend an hour correcting last nights assignment (it takes so long because everyone has so many questions), get the new assignment, and puzzle over it for 10 minutes until you finally give up due to complete lack of understanding. Such is life in the new new math, Constructivism.