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Reformist vs. Traditional Math

There are some interesting issues brought up in the article located at:

Basically, the author points to the differences in the two approaches to teaching math.

The reformers, representing the education establishment, believe learning "process" is more important than memorizing core knowledge. They see self-discovery as more important than getting the right answer. For them it's the journey, not the destination.

Traditionalists, consisting mainly of parent groups and mathematicians, advocate teaching the traditional algorithms. They advocate clear, concrete standards based on actually solving math problems. The destination - getting the right answer - is important to traditionalists.

Although I don't agree with the author's stance that only traditionalist, the author does make some good points. The reason why I disagree is because too many current teachers have been taught that constructive, reformist, or discovery math is the only right way to teach math.

Reformist curricula might make for an interesting doctoral dissertation, but they don't hold up well when ivory tower meets bricks and mortar. In math education, America's children once competed well with their foreign peers. But today our students' mathematical performance earns them a place in the bottom quartile of industrialized countries. They are in the middle of the pack when less-developed nations are added.

What has changed during recent decades? The teaching philosophy. The reformers of the education establishment - Big Ed - took over. Billions of tax dollars have been spent on a social experiment in which the tried-and-true was discarded and the intellectually fashionable was foisted on schoolchildren.

This should spark outrage among both parents and taxpayers. It should trouble anyone counting on today's students to get good jobs and pay taxes.