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[Xmca-l] Re: NYTimes.com: Why Do Americans Stink at Math?

Some general comments (and I apologize for being so late to the conversation as I have been out of email contact)

Magdalen Lampert and Deborah Ball were both at Michigan State in the late 80s. They both taught what might, in part, be an early version of the Common Core to their students. I also taught math methods beginning in the late 90s and also emphasized such an approach (I also did similar as a K-12 math teacher before moving onto college teaching). There is little 'new' math in the Common Core - perhaps a bit of 'old' math. However, there is a very strong emphasis on kids making sense out of what they are doing (I apologize for being brief, but this is a moment between meetings at a conference devoted to such 'strange' notions as helping kids making sense). 

There are problems with the Common Core as written down: it is being forced down teachers' throats; it has been tied into high stakes testing (which, by the way, occurs at places in a student's life in Japan); there are some debatable differences in the age sequencing of topics; teachers to be have often not been prepared for such teaching in their college courses; and more.

Some of these problems may be ironed out with time; however, the training and culture of teaching (see Jackson and Lortie, even if somewhat dated) in the US is still a bit grim. 

So a few summary points:

     Teaching that is, more or less, in sync with the Common Core has been practiced for years in the US. Teacher training that is in sync with the Common Core has been available for years in the US. Lesson study Japanese style may be more possible with an agreed upon core (although one might look to the Netherlands to see what works well for them rather than Japan). 

     An interesting question for those of us who are involved in teacher training might be "Why do so many teachers find the Common Core Standards so threatening - factoring out the forcing and testing)?" What (from the 4th grade standards, for example):

     	• Use place value understanding and properties of operations to perform multi-digit arithmetic.

	• Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them

do some elementary teachers find difficult and threatening?

Again apologies for being very, very short about a very large and very complex problem.


On Jul 28, 2014, at 2:25 PM, Katherine Wester Neal <wester@uga.edu> wrote:

> What an interesting article! I am thinking about the lack of focus on specific contexts in the article's discussion of teaching and learning to teach as a practicing teacher. Is it possible to go about such change (from "old" math to new math or Common Core math) with little/no consideration for what kinds of teaching might work in a particular school culture or the social context of a given classroom? I think less of a standardized approach (here, everyone do this) and more focus on what works locally (here are some ideas; now decide what might work for you) might help teachers learn to teach Common Core math in a way that actually works in their particular context. To adapt phrase from Magdalene Lampert, it might bring about more sustainable change as they are "re-learning teaching" in their schools. 
> Because Common Core math is so different, perhaps this re-learning teaching requires a radical new approach instead of the same old professional development. Learning through the Japanese jugyokenkyu method sounds like it might be very useful, but there doesn't seem to be a push for reforming how teachers learn once they are in the field. (Except that if enough of their students fail the Common Core-aligned tests, they will eventually be out of a job.) 
> It seems nonsensical to implement incredibly high-stakes tests without significant investment in re-learning teaching and with, as far as I know, no research on how to learn to teach Common Core as a practicing teacher. I, too, wonder about how these issues are handled in Japan? 
> Katie
> Katie Wester-Neal
> University of Georgia
> ________________________________________
> From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu> on behalf of Huw Lloyd <huw.softdesigns@gmail.com>
> Sent: Monday, July 28, 2014 12:58 PM
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Fwd: NYTimes.com: Why Do Americans Stink at Math?
> On 28 July 2014 16:46, Greg Thompson <greg.a.thompson@gmail.com> wrote:
> [...]
> These students had learned
>> incredibly well how to solve recipe Physics but they had no idea about how
>> the basic principles of Physics worked.
> Greg,
> I would say the ethics of the situation go deeper than simply (un)learnt
> capabilities, but rather to the development of the student's creative
> capabilities (or, rather, the stunting of them).
> Best,
> Huw