This is the story of a first grader I know in Louisville, attending a private school (to escape the dismal public school system that is Kentucky). Some students in her grade have Rocket Math (which is traditional, as in speed tests.) But Sally has Everyday Mathematics, (less stressful because zeroing in on the right answer is always stressful), which was conceived by a University of Chicago prof a couple of decades ago for his own Winnetka Way kids, and which has since bankrupted mathematics teaching throughout the country. Think – guessing, rounding, visualizing, crafting. Does this sound anything like an exact way of thinking about mathematics? Maybe a way to get American students into competition with Singapore?
It’s pathetic that college departments of education, teachers unions, and the monopoly that controls elementary education are still pushing mediocrity and pop psychology in the name of learning. What we need is 1) an end to nationalization of curriculua, 2) a free market for education labor, 3) open minds to the efficiencies that new technologies can offer students, and 4) awakened and attentive parents.
Here ‘s an example of what Sally’s parents are facing in her Everyday Math program. The video tutorial for parents that she brought home the first week of school had this problem:
468-274 = ?
1) Make a ballpark estimate (because estimates in math are so useful).
Sally’s estimate: 470-270=200
2) Use counting up subtraction to solve. So she must write:
274 + 100=374
Then she must add: 100+50+30+10+4=194
And remember, this is a subtraction problem! The story goes on and on; here’s one from New York.