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The Four Pillars Upon Which the Failure of Math Education Rests

The Four Pillars Upon Which the Failure of Math Education Rests

The Four Pillars Upon Which the Failure of Math Education Rests

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Pages:165 pages
Size:1.34 MB
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Math education in the U.S. cannot be made worse. The most closely watched international test of student achievement in mathematics, PISA (Program for International Student Assessment), shows that there isn't a

single country the U.S. competes with, in any meaningful way, where students perform worse in math than our own. This situation is not new.

I came to math education unexpectedly and entirely by accident. What I saw when I taught my first (and only) math class (9th grade algebra) was a bunch of nice kids dispirited by their previous eight years of math education. For almost all of those children, math education had ground down their curiosity, diminished their interest, and left them resigned to four more years of mindless, mechanical procedures they didn't even hope to understand. Understanding, a chief goal of every intellectual endeavor, is an uninvited stranger in math education. Without understanding, however, all of K-12 math education is much less valuable than a four-function calculator from the Dollar Store.

When I began teaching that math class, I was already (if I may say) an experienced and skillful teacher of computer science. Throughout that year, I made a sustained effort to grasp the ways, means, and ends of my colleagues in the math department. I also devoted much thought to the many differences between the values, practices and goals I perceived in math education and those I brought with me from teaching computer science.

They were worlds apart. At the end of that year I left the classroom determined to unravel the mysteries of the failure of math education and to develop a realistic and practical approach that can be applied widely and with a significant likelihood of greater success.



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