Saturday, February 17, 2007

Math research hoax

Fuzzy math enthusiasts and curanderos like to point to alleged "research shows" to help peddle their wares.

Let the colonel explain.

Excerpts from a stunning report from the National Research Council posted on KTM II show that there is no there there.

Among other things, the committee finds that:

The corpus of evaluation studies as a whole across the 19 programs studied does not permit one to determine the effectiveness of individual programs with high degree of certainty, due to the restricted number of studies for any particular curriculum, limitations in the array of methods used, and the uneven quality of the studies.
As a bonus, there is a list of rogue fuzzy math programs, most of them financed with tax dollars through the EHR directorate of the National Science Foundation:

Elementary School:
• Everyday Mathematics (EM), Grades K-6 (SRA/McGraw-Hill)
• Investigations in Number, Data and Space, Grades K-6 (Scott Foresman) [ed.: also called "TERC"]
• Math Trailblazers, Grades K-6 (Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company)

Middle School:
• Connected Mathematics Project (CMP), Grades 6-8 (Prentice Hall)
• Mathematics in Context (MiC), Grades 5-8 (Holt, Rinehart and Winston)
• MathScape: Seeing and Thinking Mathematically, Grades 6-8 (Glencoe/McGraw-Hill)
• MathThematics (STEM), Grades 6-8 (McDougal Littell)
• Middle School Mathematics Through Applications Project (MMAP) Pathways to Algebra and Geometry, Grades 6-8 (currently unpublished)

High School:
• Contemporary Mathematics in Context (Core-Plus), Grades 9-12 (Glencoe/McGraw-Hill)
• Interactive Mathematics Program (IMP), Grades 9-12 (Key Curriculum Press)
• MATH Connections: A Secondary Mathematics Core Curriculum, Grades 9-12 (IT’S ABOUT TIME, Inc.)
• Mathematics: Modeling Our World (MMOW/ARISE), Grades 9-12 (W.H. Freeman and Company)
• Systemic Initiative for Montana Mathematics and Science (SIMMS) Integrated Mathematics, Grades 9-12 (Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company)

This list can help parents spot the offending and immensely damaging voodoo math programs in their schools so they can raise hell.


tattatu said...

what you are labeling progressive actually centers around a reformed protestant movement known by a variety of names in Michigan as Cryptocalvinists or 5 point Calvinism. An example - Lattice math, a popular algorithm taught in standardized textbooks, was popularized by Napier in 1688. It is only suitable for small whole numbers. Napier is less widely known for his views on the apocalypse.
There are examples from Core Plus that are taken straight from classical roman texts from about 300 AD. This age is known as neoplatonism. Core plus does not teach inductive reasoning. Its treatment of a line as a model for a discrete set of data points is a classical roman concept - totally innappropriate for the 21st century. There is too much emphasis on obsolete statistical terms (e.g. mean absolute deviation) and deductive reasoning. There are many examples of NSF sponsored research that is slanted in favor standardized curriculum. All of it should be considered fraudulent. In particular, an excellent starting point are research reports that match data to standardized test scores that are not valid high school assessments.
At a public school where I taught - the kids in the lowest tracks (zoo tracks) weren't given calculators (necessary for Core plus) and they were told to learn by reading the textbook. Not surprising, less than 10% of the Hispanics who attended this school graduated. I accused the administrators of racial bigotry and they had me fired. Working with Cryptos is like having the mafia run our schools. Don't blame teachers - blame the MAA, blame the Neotic Institute, Freudenthal Institute, Univ. of Chicago, Michigan State University, and all the institutes created that support standardized reform, including NCTM. Wested is a leader in reform on the West Coast.

This is not a progressive movement - its orthodox -- research the history of outdoor education and Waldorf. Its based on neoplatonism - students already have the knowledge given to them by God, books are used as a means to inspire and access this knowledge. If you study the satanic cults - this is the reactionary group to Tulips or 5-pointers. There are many parallels and that is what our society is creating in our youth. Learning through self-study (knowledge divined through reading, inspired by God.)

Another interesting link is the Maharishi University where many of these writers now work and that network has direct ties with the bush family and textbook publishers. SRI is also tied in with this group. Its an amazing story, because this is where it also ties in with Scriven, Huertals, Treisman, Rombergs (Tom and Alan), and Adler. Not to mention the Apollo 14 astronauts, plus a whole bandwagon of hucksters. Any good writers out there?

Instructivist said...

The term "progressive" refers to the historical Progressive movement. See here:

It now goes by other terms like "best practice", constructivism, inquiry and so on.

For many reasons, this type of "progressive" education leads to the perpetuation of the status quo and societal stratification.

tattatu said...

My last comment should be explained further. Part of what makes this a cult movement is because of a widely-held belief that the books were inspired first to be written by God through them and second that children will be inspired when they read the book. The child already has the knowledge that God has given them, the book is used to inspire the child to unlock that knowledge. It is not well known, but Philadelphia, is ground zero for the Hari Krishnas. The person who did the pilot testing and subsequent research for the standardized textbooks was himself an important Hari Krishna figure. This helps explain why the Maharishi is an important religous figure, because god speaks through him and that is why his textbooks are considered inspirational.

Its fetishism and I'm not making this up either. Its not progressive education or liberalism, its early Roman Christianity and its link to new age religions, Buddism, and Hinduism through the Manicheans, whom st. augustine
rejected because he failed to learn Greek. Its fortunate that his Greek teacher beat him or we'd be living in Dante's Hell instead of Nirvana. There is also a Jewish sect that is reformed and believes in the Apocalypse, but my understanding of this group is still limited.

Yes I agree with some of your last comments about best practice and constructivism. With a crypto, the model for constructivism is different, since teachers have a significantly less important role. Group learning and discovery methods had a revival during the 1880's - you'll find current progressives citing Blavatsky - who was dismissed back then as a charlatan and plagerizer. Her writing is a mixture of masonism and greek orthodox. Not to mention her ideas concerning race and human origins. You'll now find 19th century theories on early man in elementary textbooks - louis agassiz and the Lazarroni should be despised by all Americans.

I think people confuse progressive education with political liberalism, because these were schools created for people that had wealth and confused evolution with animal breeding. A conservative would favor school privatization - yet standardized textbooks are written by the very same conservatives.

Theistic baconianism - scottish common-sense spiced with hard-core calvinism.