Back to the Books

Speaking of reporting from the inside, a writer for the Washington Post will be blogging while taking an Algebra II class at one of the high schools here in the overly large school district.

Over the school year, The Washington Post will revisit scatter plots and polynomials, word problems and standardized tests to explore how and why math education is ramping up. The series will examine how ready students and teachers are for the change, and what it takes to convince a roomful of teenagers — whose parents probably could not help them with their homework — that, yes, they might actually use algebra later in life.

I’m not sure what he means by being ready for a “change” since the curriculum is pretty much the same as has been used for decades.

From the slide show accompanying the article, I also don’t see much change in the teaching methods being used (no graphing calculators?).

And then there’s this:

Keisha Sogueco, 16, a junior in Colclaser’s class who described herself as “not really a math person,” said she agrees that math is important because it “keeps you thinking.” But asked how function notation may play a role later in life, she said, “I’m not really sure.”

This classmate is trying to answer the same question. For now, we are preoccupied with plodding through an 1,100-page textbook, solving word problems that involve Mr. Ito filling up a tank of water at the rate of nine gallons per minute and graphing equations point by point.

I suspect that this reporter, along with most members of the class, will arrive at the end of the school year able to perform the mechanics of Algebra but understanding very little about why anyone would want to do it.

However, it will be interesting to follow the posts.

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