Home > Math News Archive Detail

<< Prev 2/21/2010 Next >>

Combating Today's Constant Negative Rhetoric

Consider this statement: We hear claims and counterclaims about the product of our public schools. On the one hand, business people tell us that high school graduates don't seem to know how to attack a simple mathematical exercise and can't even add and similarily teachers of college freshmen say that their students can't reason and perform operations very uncertainly. On the other hand, some educators cite "researches" which "prove" that pupils today outrank those of 25 years ago. Just what is the situation?

Instead of a statistical comparison of total scores on an arithmetic test we probably should be seeking information such as: (a) in what respects is the learning of pupils today better or poorer than it was 25 years ago? and (b) how well do our students perform in relation to the demands of society upon them? What are the strengths and the weaknesses and what should be done about this?

Sounds like commentary on the current rhetoric issued by the "Where's the Math?" and its related groups. Perhaps I need to add that these statements were published in 1954, comparing students' arithmetical performance in 1930 and 1954. Ill-informed people want to return to the good old-days of math instruction, which apparently was not as good as the good old-old-days. Square root algorithm, here we come!

Source: Arithmetic Teacher, April 15, 1954, p. 22