Ten Myths About Whole Math
there broad consensus on how we're teaching math these days?
No, there are two opposing camps. The
"whole math" methods developed by the National Council of Teachers of
Mathematics (NCTM), is under fire from New York City HOLD (Honest Open Logical
Decisions), which favors a more traditional approach.
The latter is made up of
mathematicians and scientists, K-12 teachers of mathematics, educational
researchers, and parents nationwide. They claim to have defined 10 myths about
math education that form the basis for the NCTM's standards, which they
vigorously oppose. To capsulize the positions of proponents of whole math vs. proponents
of traditional math:
what students discover for themselves is truly learned.
No; kids need direct instruction of math
should invent their own ways of doing math.
No; standard skills such as long
division are crucial to higher-level math and must be taught explicitly.
need problem-solving rather than "drill and kill."
No; there's no getting around the
need for mastery of basic skills in order to do the conceptual type math.
math is better for learning-disabled children.
No; they need structure and order
even more than other kids.
math is better for disadvantaged children.
No; their teachers disagree; they
need basic skills.
use is a great way to build math ability.
No; the better the math student on
the secondary level, the less calculators were used before sixth grade.
countries beat us on math tests because they "cherry-pick" their top students
to go against our entire student bodies.
No; participants are randomly
should be taught "in context," with stories.
No; they're a tool but shouldn't
take center stage, or students won't have sufficient understanding of the math
principles involved, which are abstractions and don't need a real-world
methods are what higher-performing countries use.
No; math class in Singapore and
Japan is like the skills-based methods the grassroots group proposes.
shows NCTM methods are effective.
No; that "research" is self-serving,
opinionated and far from conclusive; it looks effective because assessments
have been modified to fit the NCTM method, instead of revealing what kids
really should know and be able to do.
documentation at www.nychold.com/myths-050504.html