Friday, April 11, 2014

11 Reasons why we need the new math

Answer to Top 11 Reasons against New Math.  Recently, I have read an article titled "Top 11 Reasons to Return to old math".   Below is each point, and my rebuttal.  

1) Johnson has failed to admit any mistakes and adequately correct them
There are approved textbooks, but no Mandated textbooks.  Teachers have the choice and freedom to determine what is best for their own classes.  Some teachers follow textbooks closely (the book they choose) and others don't even use textbooks at all.

2. Twice the number of math illiterate kids
Has other things in Alberta changed over the last 4 years? If you they have then how can we ignore everything that has changed and point the blame entirely on the math curriculum?

3. Kids need direct teaching and practice to attain mastery
 Direct Instruction is in the new math curriculum. The curriculum tells us WHAT to teach not how to teach.  If you feel that there is a teacher which only does discovery then I advise you to phone the teacher.  If it is a problem that with what the teacher is teaching then you call the government.

4. Major support for conventional math, little for discovery/inquiry math
If you support that some students should be taught with memorization and some students learn best through inquiry then you support the new math, if you believe that we should ignore individual student differences and force memorization on all then you support the old.  Which do you want?

5. Johnson not open to input
Johnson has offered many symposiums and sessions, which are open to parents and community, to attend and ask questions.   Johnson has gone to many school boards and discussed concerns, and has shown how most just don't "get" the new math as it allows students to learn under conditions which are best for the individual student not the best for the group.

6. New math is harming kids, making them hate math
People enjoyed math before the change? Really?  When I tell people I am a math teacher, with a masters in mathematics, I get looks of disgust and often asked "WHY?".  Forcing students to all memorize caused many to hate math.

7. New math has created inequitable, two-tier education in Alberta
This is more opinion than fact.  I teach in a school with various income levels and all of these kids are representative in my calculus class, and all are doing quite well.

8. Educators say we need to get back to conventional math teaching
Many educators are wanting the ability and autonomy to teach how they want. The irony is that going back is actually putting more restrictions on the teacher, while keeping this way is actually providing options for teachers.

9. New math was brought in without any credible classroom studies showing it’s better or even effective
Lots of research was done.  Again, the words "discovery, inquiry, 21st Century" are not found ANYWHERE is the curriculum.  The curriculum dictates to the teacher WHAT to teach, and what you will find are the words "personal strategies".  Meaning that a student can determine how to answer a question based on what makes the most sense for them.

10. Direct instruction and memorization can lead to creativity, deeper understanding, critical thinking
This might be true...for some, while for others inquiry can lead to creativity.  Both strategies are embraced in today's math classrooms, while only one group can be "creative" in the old style.

11. Conventional math advocates are open to discovery-inquiry techniques
 All strategies can be used in Today's Classrooms.

Lastly, if you aren't convinced here is what an actual "new math classroom" looks like.

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