Saturday, December 16, 2006

Bad advice

Over at edspresso there is a fascinating series of articles written by an ed student using the pseudonym John Dewey. In one of the installments, the student quotes from the textbook the class is using:

A case in point is the textbook we are reading in my math teaching methods class. The textbook is "Teaching Mathematics in Secondary and Middle School" by James S. Cangelosi. Excerpt from Chapter 4:

"Because mathematics is widely misunderstood to be a linear sequence of skills to be mastered one at a time in a fixed order, some people think teaching mathematics is a matter of following a prescribed curriculum guide or mathematics textbook. ...
This statement makes me shudder. Math is brutally cumulative and a linear sequence of skills is often necessary. For example, how can you reduce fractions without having learned division? Leave it to ed schools to mistrain teachers in such an egregious fashion. One can only hope math continues to be "widely misunderstood."

4 comments:

NYC Math Teacher said...

Must know GCF to reduce fractions. Must know LCM to find lowest common denominator. Must know how to divide and multiply to do both. Must know equivalent fractions and reducing to add, subtract, multiply, and divide fractions. Must know division to change fractions into decimals. Must know how to change fractions into decimals to change decimals into percents. Must know how to multiply decimals to do percent problems.

Non-linear my g-d d-mn a--!!

John Dewey said...

The latest letter is now posted at http://www.edspresso.com/2006/12/the_view_from_behind_the_count.htm

Unique said...

I wish you'd update more. Your posts are so ...
well, refreshing isn't the word... maybe thought provoking; no wait, Real.

That's the word - real. Looking forward to more in 2007.

abacustutor said...

My goodness. This post explains it all, doesn't it. It gives clear explanation as to why we continue to find kids in high school Algebra who still can do long division, or multiply decimals. Because math is non-linear?! To think that math books and math educators have bought into all this! Good grief.