Archive for the ‘Barry Garelick’ Tag

Math Teacher’s Book About Ed School Groupthink   2 comments

barry

How would you like to be a fly on the wall in a teacher education classroom?  What are colleges training teachers to teach today?  Is it legitimate education?

Barry Garelick, a California math teacher, has written a book (his introduction is below) based on his university teacher- education experiences,  and experiences as a student teacher.  Garelick used two pen names, “Huck Finn” and “John Dewey” –to avoid ruining his chance of obtaining a teaching credential at the time, and to avoid being blackballed from teaching because of differences in teaching philosophy.

The insightful and sometimes very funny chronicles show that the one-size-fits-all mentality displayed by Common Core starts before our children enter K-12 classrooms; it starts in the groupthink of teacher education schools.

Thanks, Barry.

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In Which I Explain Myself  Without Apology

 Guest post by Barry Garelick

I have written a book entitled “Letters from John Dewey/Letters from Huck Finn: A Look at Math Education from the Inside”.  It is a collection of letters that I wrote which chronicle my experiences in a math teaching methods class in Ed. school (using the name John Dewey) and my experiences student teaching (using the name Huck Finn).  I teach mathematics in California.  I have a degree in the subject and an intense interest in how it is taught.

When my daughter was in elementary school I saw things I didn’t like about the way she was being taught math.  I was also tutoring high school students in math and saw disturbing weaknesses in basic math skills.  This caused me to embark in research about what is going on in math education.  I decided that the way I could possibly make a difference was to teach mathematics in middle or high school.  In the fall of 2005, with six more years left until I could retire, I enrolled in education school.

By way of a short background, the debate over how math is best taught in K-12  (and which is known as the “math wars“) has been going on for many years, starting perhaps in the early part of the 20th century.  The education theory at the heart of the dispute can be traced to John Dewey, an early proponent of learning through discovery.  Fast forward to 1957 when Sputnik was launched and the New Math era began in earnest, which continued until the early 70’s.  Then came the “back to basics” movement, and in 1989 the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) came out with The Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics, also known as the NCTM standards. 

The NCTM’s view was that traditional teaching techniques were akin to “rote memorization” and that in order for students to truly learn mathematics, the subject must be taught “with understanding”.  Thus, process trumped contentShowing how students obtained the answer to a problem was more important than getting a right answer.  Open-ended ill-posed problems became the order for the day.  The prevailing education groupthink was (and still is) that teaching the mathematical procedures for particular types of problems was just more rote.  Such approaches didn’t teach students “higher order thinking skills”, “critical thinking” and many other terms that are part of the education establishment’s lexicon.

By the time I enrolled in Ed. school, I pretty much knew what I was in for.  I was well acquainted with the theories of teaching and learning which dominated the education establishment in general and education schools in particular. Nevertheless, I was surprised at what I heard when going through the candidate interviews, which was part of the application process.  Future teachers of science and math were herded in one group and given a brief talk by the coordinator of secondary education.  Among her opening remarks was the announcement that “The way math and science are taught today is probably not how you were taught when you were in school.”  A few sentences later, the coordinator, with index finger pointing to the ceiling for emphasis, said “Inquiry-based learning!”   Though a bit unnerved, I at least knew where I was.

All in all, my Ed. school experience had some redeeming features. Most of my teachers had taught in K-12, and had valuable advice about classroom management problems and some good common-sense approaches to teaching that didn’t rely on nausea-inducing theories.  Also, I learned how to make it sound like my approach to teaching was what was being taught. I learned to talk about discovery approaches and small group exercises—no one has to know that such techniques are not going to be your dominant teaching approach.   In short, since future teachers will be working in a bureaucracy that is often dictated by the groupthink of the education establishment, Ed. school serves the purpose of teaching survival techniques.

Sometime after I took my first course, I decided to write a series of letters documenting my experience in Ed. school, using the pseudonym of John Dewey.  There was a new education blog that had emerged called Edspresso, edited by a genial and talented young man named Ryan Boots. (Unfortunately, he left Edspresso several years ago).  I pitched the idea to him, asking him what he thought.  He responded almost immediately along the lines of “An Ed. school mole writing about his experiences?  When can you start?”

My series of letters for Edspresso covered mainly one class—the beginning math teaching methods class.  The letters proved to be very popular and many people left comments—some supportive, and some very angry.  I wrote the letters almost in real time—there was perhaps a one or two week delay between the letter I was writing and the events of a particular class.

As I progressed through the class, I noticed that while my views on teaching may have differed from that of the teacher (an adjunct professor who I refer to as Mr. NCTM), there were certain views that we shared in common.  We were both around the same age, and he had taught high school math for 30 years.  He had very good advice and it was clear that he liked me.  I came to the realization that though there were vast differences in teaching philosophies within the teaching profession, one had to work with fellow teachers as well as the people in power on a daily basis.  The trick would be to find a situation in which I could be loyal to how I believed math should be taught, and find that common bond with the other teachers and the administration that would allow us all to get along.

I decided to stop writing the letters when the math teaching methods class ended.  This was not only because of the time involved in writing them, but because of a fear that their continuation would ultimately lead someone to discover the identity of the author.  I didn’t want to ruin any chance of obtaining a teaching credential, nor to be blackballed from any teaching positions because of differences in teaching philosophy.

After several years, I had completed all my coursework and was ready to move on to student teaching.  I had a few months to go until retirement, and then could take on the commitment for the remaining task.  I felt that this phase called for a resurrection of John Dewey, but my initial draft of a letter seemed forced and the voice of Mr. Dewey no longer seemed appropriate.

Around that time, I had the good fortune to have seen a performance of Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain.  Mr. Holbrook was 85, so I knew this might be my last chance to see him.  The performance lived up to everything I had heard about it, but one part of the evening stood out.  He did a reading from Huckleberry Finn that was extremely moving and convincing.  I heard the voice of a naive young boy commenting on rather serious matters over which he had no control, but about which he was beginning to form life-changing opinions.  I realized the next day that Huck Finn was the perfect choice for the author of the letters about student teaching, immersed in the polarized world of education, and drifting along the ideological, political and cultural divide.

I asked Katharine Beals who runs the blog “Out In Left Field” if she wouldn’t mind publishing some letters from Huck Finn about the process of becoming a math teacher.  She was excited about this and so I decided to give it a go.  I was grateful for her taking Huck in; she is known as “Miss Katharine” in the letters.  The name seemed to fit her quite well.

The first two Huck Finn letters are about a year apart, and then they follow the student teaching.  I couldn’t write those in real time since the teaching kept me rather busy, so I wrote the letters after I finished.  After another year I wrote six more episodes, this time looking at Huck’s experience as a substitute teacher.

I’m trying to think of something profound and moving to close with here and the best I could come up with was  “For anyone wanting to make a movie based on these letters, please don’t have me played by Matt Damon.” Actually, a comment I received on one of the Huck Finn letters from Niki Hayes, a former teacher and principal, is much better I think, so let me close with that and offer it to you as advice:

So you learned what teaching is about: The dispensing of content information so that kids don’t have to “struggle” repeatedly to understand it (which makes most humans turn off the learning switch) AND experiencing those wonderful young eyes that make you want to be a better teacher and person. You’ll always remember these kids because they were your first “tutors.” Let me assure you, there will be many more as you enter the special land of teaching.

My goal is to get this book to be required reading in math teaching methods classes at ed schools.  So if you know anyone in an Ed. school with influence, please tell them about this book.    -Barry Garelick

 “Letters from John Dewey/Letters from Huck Finn: A Look at Math Education from the Inside” is available on Amazon.  

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U.S. Coalition For World Class Math Co-Founder Explains Common Core Math in 3-Part Series   Leave a comment

The links to all three parts of Barry Garelick’s article on “Standards For Mathematical Practice” are available here:

http://www.educationnews.org/k-12-schools/standards-for-mathematical-practice-the-cheshire-cats-grin/

http://www.educationnews.org/k-12-schools/standards-for-mathematical-practice-cheshire-cats-grin-part-two/

http://www.educationnews.org/k-12-schools/standards-for-mathematical-practice-cheshire-cats-grin-part-three/

A favorite highlight of the series includes the explanation of why students should be taught how to solve problems, and not just how to find internet resources to solve problems or invent their way to solutions.

Um, yes!

Professor Tienken, Ze’ev Wurman, Barry Garelick Take on Utah State Office of Education: On Common Core Math   3 comments

First, I received yet another “makes-no-sense” common core math explanation from the Utah State Office of Education, via Ms. Diana Suddreth.

Next, I asked nationally recognized experts to help me digest Suddreth’s words.  This included curricular expert Dr. Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University, New Jersey, former Dept of Ed advisor and Hoover Institute (Stanford University visiting scholar) Ze’ev Wurman of California; and U.S. Coalition for World Class Math founder Barry Garelick.

This is what they wrote.  (Ms. Suddreth’s writing is also posted below.)

From Dr. Christopher H. Tienken:

Christel,

The UTAH bureaucrat is referencing this book – see below. Look at chpts 7 and 11 for where I think she is gathering support.

http://books.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=9822

Her answer still does not make curricular sense in that she explains that fluency with moving between fractions and decimals is assumed in some ways. With all due respect, the curriculum document is a legally binding agreement of what will be taught. Teachers are bound by law to follow it (of course many don’t but that is going to change with this new testing system). Therefore, if it is not explicitly in the document, it might not get taught.

There are a lot of assumptions made in the Core. Just look at the Kindergarten math sequence. It assumes a lot of prior knowledge on the part of kids. That might be fine for some towns, but certainly not for others.

Perhaps the bureaucrat can point to specific standards that call for students to demonstrate fluency in converting fractions to decimals etc.

However, I think the bigger issue is that parents now don’t have a say in terms of whether and how much emphasis is placed on those skills. Local control is one mechanism for parents to lobby for emphasis of content. Not all content is equally important to each community. The negotiation of “emphasis” is a local issue, but that has now been decided for parents by a distal force.

Christopher H. Tienken, Ed.D.

Editor, AASA Journal of Scholarship & Practice

Editor, Kappa Delta Pi Record

Seton Hall University

College of Education and Human Services

Department of Education Leadership, Management, and Policy

South Orange, NJ

Visit me @: http://www.christienken.com

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Dear Members of the Board,

Ms. Swasey forwarded to me an email that you have received recently, discussing how Utah Core supposedly handles the conversion between fraction forms. I would like to pass you my comments on that email.

First, let me briefly introduce myself. I am a visiting scholar at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. I was a member of the California Academic Content Standards Commission in 2010, which reviewed the Common Core standards before their adoption by the state of California. Prior to that I served as a senior policy adviser at the U.S. Department of Education.

Response to Diana Suddreth’s note, passed to Utah’s Board of Education on April 23, regarding the question of conversion among fractional forms
(Original in italics)

The question that was originally asked was about converting fractions to decimals; therefore, the response pointed to the specific standard where that skill is to be mastered. A close reading of the Utah Core will reveal that the development of a conceptual understanding of fractions that leads to procedural skills begins in grade 3 and is developed through 7th grade. The new core does not list every specific procedure that students will engage in; however, explaining equivalence of fractions (3rd & 4th grade), ordering fractions (4th grade), understanding decimal notation for fractions (4th grade), and performing operations with fractions (4th, 5th, and 6th grade) all suggest and even require certain procedures to support understanding and problem solving.
Unfortunately, Ms. Suddreth does not address above the question at hand—whether, or how, does the Utah Core expect students to develop fluency and understanding with conversion among fractional representations of fractions, decimals and percent—and instead offers general description of how Utah Core treats fractions. This is fine as it goes, but it does not add anything to the discussion.

In 5th grade, fractions are understood as division problems where the numerator is divided by the denominator. (In fact, the new core does a better job of this than the old where fractions were more often treated as parts of a whole, without also relating them to division.)

The above is incorrect. In grade 5, as in previous grades, the Common Core (or Utah Core, if you will) frequently treats fractions as “parts of the whole.” There is no other way to interpret grade 5 standards such as “Solve word problems involving addition and subtraction of fractions referring to the same whole … e.g., by using visual fraction models …” (5.NF.2) or “Interpret the product (a/b) × q as a parts of a partition of q into b equal parts;” (5.NF.4a). All this, however, has little to do with the question at hand.

As for percents, students learn that percent is a rate per 100 (a fraction), a concept that is fully developed with a focus on problem solving in 5th and 6th grade.

Yet again Ms. Suddreth is clearly wrong. Percent are not even introduced by the Common (Utah) Core before grade 6.

The new core promotes a strong development of the understanding of fractions as rational numbers, including representations in decimal, fraction, or percent form. Mathematics is far too rich a field to be reduced to a series of procedures without looking at the underlying connections and various representations. There is nothing in the new core to suggest that students will not develop the kinds of procedural skills that support this depth of understanding.

Here, like in her first paragraph, Ms. Suddereth, avoids responding to the question and hopes that writing about unrelated issues will cover this void. The argument was never that the Common Core does not develop understanding of fractions as rational numbers, as decimals, and as percents. The argument was that such understanding is developed in isolation for each form, and that fluent conversion between forms is barely developed in a single standard that touches only peripherally on the conversion and does it at much later (grade 7) than it ought to. Fluency with conversion among fractional representations was identified as a key skill by the National Research Council, the NCTM, and the presidential National Math Advisory Panel. It is not some marginal aspect of elementary mathematics that should be “inferred” and “understood” from other standards. The Common Core is already full of painstakingly detailed standards dealing with fractions and arguing that such cardinal area as fluency with conversion (“perhaps the deepest translation problem in pre-K to grade 8 mathematics” in NRC’s opinion) should not be addressed explicitly is disingenuous.

The new core is, in fact, supported by the Curriculum Focal Points from NCTM, which do not conflict with anything in the new core, but rather provide detailed illustrations of how a teacher might focus on the development of mathematics with their students. The new core is based on the research in Adding It Up. Some of the researchers on that project were also involved in the development of the Common Core, which forms the basis for the Utah Core.

Curriculum Focal Points explicitly requires fluency with conversion between fractional forms by grade 7, which is absent in the Common Core. It also, for example, expects fluency with dividing integers and with addition and subtraction of decimals by grade 5, which the Common Core expects only by grade 6. One wonders what else it would take to make Ms. Suddreth label them as in conflict. One also wonders how much is the Common Core really “based on the research in Adding It Up” if it essentially forgot even to address what Adding It Up considers “perhaps the deepest translation problem in pre-K to grade 8 mathematics”—the conversion among fractions, decimals, and percent.

In summary, Ms. Suddereth’s note passed to you by Ms. Pyfer contains both misleading and incorrect claims and is bound to confuse rather than illuminate.

Ze’ev Wurman
zeev@ieee.org
Palo Alto, Calif.
650-384-5291

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From Barry Garelick of the U.S. Coalition for World Class Math:
Feel free to send them links to my article (which is a three part article).  There’s a very good comment that someone left [on part one] which once they read might make them realize they better tread a bit more carefully.  http://www.educationnews.org/k-12-schools/standards-for-mathematical-practice-cheshire-cats-grin-part-three/
BG

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From: Tami Pyfer <tami.pyfer@usu.edu>

Date: Tue, Apr 23, 2013 at 8:22 PM

Subject: Follow-up on Question about math standard

To: Board of Education <Board@schools.utah.gov>, “Hales, Brenda (Brenda.Hales@schools.utah.gov)” <Brenda.Hales@schools.utah.gov>

Cc: “Christel S (212christel@gmail.com)” <212christel@gmail.com>, “Diana Suddreth (Diana.Suddreth@schools.utah.gov)” <Diana.Suddreth@schools.utah.gov>

Dear Board members-

The note below from Diana Suddreth is additional information that I hope will be helpful for you in understanding the questions you may have gotten regarding the claim that the new math core doesn’t require students to know how to convert fractions to decimals, or addresses the skill inadequately. Diana has just returned from a math conference and I appreciate her expertise in this area and the additional clarification.

Please feel free to share this with others who may be contacting you with questions.

Hope this helps!

Tami

The question that was originally asked was about converting fractions to decimals; therefore, the response pointed to the specific standard where that skill is to be mastered. A close reading of the Utah Core will reveal that the development of a conceptual understanding of fractions that leads to procedural skills begins in grade 3 and is developed through 7th grade. The new core does not list every specific procedure that students will engage in; however, explaining equivalence of fractions (3rd & 4th grade), ordering fractions (4th grade), understanding decimal notation for fractions (4th grade), and performing operations with fractions (4th, 5th, and 6th grade) all suggest and even require certain procedures to support understanding and problem solving. In 5th grade, fractions are understood as division problems where the numerator is divided by the denominator. (In fact, the new core does a better job of this than the old where fractions were more often treated as parts of a whole, without also relating them to division.) As for percents, students learn that percent is a rate per 100 (a fraction), a concept that is fully developed with a focus on problem solving in 5th and 6th grade.

The new core promotes a strong development of the understanding of fractions as rational numbers, including representations in decimal, fraction, or percent form. Mathematics is far too rich a field to be reduced to a series of procedures without looking at the underlying connections and various representations. There is nothing in the new core to suggest that students will not develop the kinds of procedural skills that support this depth of understanding.

The new core is, in fact, supported by the Curriculum Focal Points from NCTM, which do not conflict with anything in the new core, but rather provide detailed illustrations of how a teacher might focus on the development of mathematics with their students. The new core is based on the research in Adding It Up. Some of the researchers on that project were also involved in the development of the Common Core, which forms the basis for the Utah Core.

Diana Suddreth, STEM Coordinator

Utah State Office of Education

Salt Lake City, UT

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From: Christel S [212christel@gmail.com]

Sent: Tuesday, April 23, 2013 10:42 PM

Subject: Follow-up on Question about math standard

My math and curriculum friends, I don’t know how to argue with these people. Can you assist? Here we have countless parents hating the common core math, and reviewers telling us it puts us light years behind legitimate college readiness, but the USOE continues the charade.

Please help– point me to facts and documentation that will make sense to the average person. Thank you.

Developing Algebraic Habits of Mind (Not Gonna Happen with Common Core)   Leave a comment

“Giving students problems to solve for which they have little or no prior knowledge or mastery of algebraic skills is not likely to develop the habit of mind of algebraic thinking. But the purveyors of this practice believe that continually exposing children to unfamiliar and confusing problems will result in a problem-solving “schema” and that students are being trained to adapt in this way. In my opinion, it is the wrong assumption. A more accurate assumption is that after the necessary math is learned, one is equipped with the prerequisites to solve problems that may be unfamiliar but which rely on what has been learned and mastered. I hope research in this area is indeed conducted.”

Full text posted at Education News:  http://www.educationnews.org/k-12-schools/developing-the-habits-of-mind-for-algebraic-thinking/

Developing the Habits of Mind for Algebraic Thinking

by Barry Garelick

The idea of whether algebraic thinking can be taught outside of the context of algebra has attracted much attention over the past two decades. Interestingly, the idea has recently been raised as a question and a subject for further research in a recent article appearing in American Mathematical Society Notices which asks, “Is there evidence that teaching sense making without algebra is more or less effective than teaching the same concepts with algebra?” I sincerely hope this request is followed up on.

The term “habits of mind” comes up repeatedly in discussions about education — and math education in particular. The idea that teaching the “habits of mind” that make up algebraic thinking in advance of learning algebra has attracted its share of followers. Teaching algebraic habits of mind has been tried in various incarnations in classrooms across the U.S.

Habits of mind are important and necessary to instill in students. They make sense when the habits taught arise naturally out of the context of the material being learned. Thus, a habit such as “Say in your head what you are doing whenever you are doing math” will have different forms depending on what is being taught. In elementary math it might be “One third of six is two”; in algebra “Combining like terms 3x and 4x gives me 7x”; in geometry “Linear pairs add to 180, therefore 2x + (x +30) = 180”; in calculus “Composite function, chain rule, derivative of outside function times derivative of inside function”.

Similarly, in fourth or fifth grade students can learn to use the distributive property to multiply 57 x 3 as 3 x (50 + 7). In algebra, that is extended to a more formal expression: a(b + c) = ab + ac.

But what I see being promoted as “habits of mind” in math are all too often the teaching of particular thinking skills without the content to support it. For example, a friend of mine who lives in Spokane directed me to the website of the Spokane school district, where they posted a math problem at a meeting for teachers regarding best practices for teaching math.

The teachers were shown the following problem which was given to fifth graders. They were to discuss the problem and assess what different levels of “understanding” were demonstrated by student answers to the problem:

Not only have students in fifth grade not yet learned how to represent equations using algebra, the problem is more of an IQ test than an exercise in math ability. Where’s the math? The “habit of mind” is apparently to see a pattern and then to represent it mathematically.

Such problems are reliant on intuition — i.e., the student must be able to recognize a mathematical pattern — and ignore the deductive nature of mathematics. An unintended habit of mind from such inductive type reasoning is that students learn the habit of inductively jumping to conclusions. This develops a habit of mind in which once a person thinks they have the pattern, then there is nothing further to be done. Such thinking becomes a problem later when working on more complex problems.

Presentating problems like the button problem above prior to a pre-algebra or algebra course will likely result in clumsy attempts at solutions that may or may not lead to algebraic thinking. Since the students do not have the experience or mathematical maturity to express mathematical ideas algebraically, algebraic thinking is not inherent at such a stage.

Specifically, one student answered the problem as 1 x (11 x 3) + 1, which would be taken as evidence by some that the child is learning the “habit” of identifying patterns and expressing them algebraically. Another student answered it as 4 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 = 34.

Rather than establishing an algebraic habit of mind, such problems may result in bad habits. It is not unusual, for example, to see students in algebra classes making charts for problems similar to the one above, even though they may be working on identifying linear relationships, and making connections to algebraic equations. By making algebraic habits of mind part of the 5th-grade curriculum in advance of any algebra, students are being told “You are now doing algebra.” By the time they get to an actual algebra class, they revert back to their 5th grade understanding of what algebra is.

In addition, the above type of problem (no matter when it is given) is better presented so as to allow deductive rather than inductive reasoning to occur.

“Gita makes a sequence of patterns with her grandmother’s buttons. For each pattern she uses one black button and several white buttons as follows: For the first pattern she takes 1 black button and places 1 white button on three sides of the black button as shown. For the second pattern she places 2 white buttons on each of three sides of one black button; for the third 3 white buttons, and continues this pattern. Write an expression that tells how many buttons will be in the nth pattern.”

The purveyors of providing students problems that require algebraic solutions outside of algebra courses sometimes justify such techniques by stating that the methods follow the recommendations of Polya’s problem solving techniques. Polya, in his classic book “How to Solve It”, advises students to “work backwards” or “solve a similar and simpler problem”.

But Polya was not addressing students in lower grades; he was addressing students who are well on their way to developing problem solving expertise by virtue of having an extensive problem solving repertoire — something that students in lower grades lack. For lower grade students, Polya’s advice is not self-executing and has about the same effect as providing advice on safe bicycle riding by telling a child to “be careful”. For younger students to find simpler problems, they must receive explicit guidance from a teacher.

As an example, consider a student who stares blankly at a problem requiring them to calculate how many 2/15 mile intervals there are in a stretch of highway that is 7/10 of a mile long. The teacher can provide the student with a simpler problem such as “How many 2 mile intervals are there in a stretch of highway that is 10 miles long?” The student should readily see this is solved by division: 10 divided by 2. The teacher then asks the student to apply that to the original problem. The student will likely say in a hesitant voice: “Uhh, 7/10 divided by 2/15?”, and the student will be on his way. Note that in this example, the problem is set in the context of what the student has learned — not based on skills or concepts to be learned later.

Giving students problems to solve for which they have little or no prior knowledge or mastery of algebraic skills is not likely to develop the habit of mind of algebraic thinking. But the purveyors of this practice believe that continually exposing children to unfamiliar and confusing problems will result in a problem-solving “schema” and that students are being trained to adapt in this way. In my opinion, it is the wrong assumption. A more accurate assumption is that after the necessary math is learned, one is equipped with the prerequisites to solve problems that may be unfamiliar but which rely on what has been learned and mastered. I hope research in this area is indeed conducted. I hope it proves me right.

Barry Garelick has written extensively about math education in various publications including The Atlantic, Education Next, Educational Leadership, and Education News. He recently retired from the U.S. EPA and is teaching middle and high school math in California.

–  –  –  –  –  –  –  –

Thanks to Barry Garelick for permission to post his article here.

A New Kind of Problem: The Common Core Math Standards – The Atlantic   Leave a comment

A New Kind of Problem: The Common Core Math Standards – The Atlantic.

This article by B. Garelick addresses the fact that Common Core creates little mathematicians who cannot do math.

Education News Piece: How Common Core Math Dumbs Down Students   Leave a comment

In today’s op-ed piece from Education News, Barry Garelick explains specifically how Common Core math will dumb down American students. Garelick writes that process is trumping content while teachers are not being allowed to teach or to demand memorization, but must be  just “guides” while students teach themselves.  Garelick writes:

“..The final math standards released in June, 2010 appear to some as if they are thorough and rigorous. Although they have the “look and feel” of math standards, their adoption in my opinion will not only continue the status quo in this country, but will be a mandate for reform math — a method of teaching math that eschews memorization, favors group work and student-centered learning, puts the teacher in the role of “guide” rather than “teacher” and insists on students being able to explain the reasons why procedures and methods work for procedures and methods that they may not be able to perform.

“I base my opinion on what I see being discussed at seminars on how to implement the Common Core…[M]aking sense of mathematics” sounds great on paper.  But what it means to those of the thoughtworld of the education establishment is what is also called “habits of mind” in which students are taught habits of analyzing problems long before they have learned the procedural knowledge and content that allows such habits to develop naturally.  They are called upon to think critically before acquiring the analytic tools with which to do so.

“… Such a process while eliminating what the edu-establishment views as tedious “drill and kill” exercises, results in poor learning and lack of mastery.”

Full article here: http://www.educationnews.org/education-policy-and-politics/the-pedagogical-agenda-of-common-core-math-standards/#comment-17598

Also, here are two youtube videos that explain the same issue with the “fuzzy” math teaching movement:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=1YLlX61o8fg
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tr1qee-bTZI
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