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Speaking of Math and Science…

In the current issue of ASCD Express, their online newsletter, a math teacher writes that it’s time for change in mathematics education.

He notes that we are still teaching “manipulative” math to students when both inexpensive technology and the internet make it possible to emphasize thinking skills instead of continuing to “focus our curricula on skills that we no longer need”.

We still need “pure” mathematics courses to prepare future mathematicians, engineers, and scientists, but for 90 percent of the population, we need to teach proper data mining and how to use that data to solve problems. We can’t quantify the skills we require from the next generation, and we can’t measure them by standardized tests, paper-and-pencil tests, or even “practicals”: we can only measure them by outcomes, which may be several years in the future.

However, it’s his closer that drives home an excellent point about more than just math.

We need to completely discard our perception of K—12 education and start fresh. If we are to remain a highly educated society, we must design the new curricula that will prepare our children with the critical-thinking skills necessary to solve not only our current problems, but also the ones yet to come.

Take a couple of minutes to read the whole thing.

1 Comment

  1. Barbara Bray

    Thank you for sharing his article. I read it also and was just writing a post to refer to it. YES – It is time to rethink K-12 education and teacher education. If we continue down this same road, we’ll continue to lose our competitive edge (which we don’t have). These past eight years we saw a focus on testing and accountability where we are training our students to know facts, answer questions on tests, and then forget later. So what? If they remember the facts, so what? They can get facts on the internet. To build a nation of critical thinkers, this author is right. We need to start fresh. Our students need to know how to discern if the facts are valid, there is authority and credibility. They need to know how to take those facts and write an essay or research from their point of view.

    What about Community Learning Centers where we start the learning process at birth? We offer parenting training for new parents, job training for the unemployed, technology training for every one with free wifi, netbooks, and virtual classes based on individual learning plans. Each person is assigned a guide/coach. Teachers will have a different role where they monitor their students learning process, help and guide them to meet their learning goals. Learning is built around problems and challenges from their community and aligned to standards. Okay – I’m just dreaming ideas right now. Thanks again.

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