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



Lovely conversation about the possibilities of meaning-fully engaging
students-in-their-lives with math(s)-as-discourse. Seems like the same
could be said of science. Some of you may know Jay Lemke (who is somewhere
on the list serve). I have often heard him speak of the playful, creative,
storytelling practice that science is as well - and Jay got his PhD in
theoretical Physics.

Unfortunately, with my kids (oldest is 12.5 year old boy), this hasn't been
the case. With the exception of one year when we were at an affluent
elementary school in San Diego where he had a particularly exceptional
teacher, most of what my kids have been getting in school is the bad and
lifeless math and science education that sees those fields ONLY as a set of
skills to be mastered (i.e. Anna's "game to be played").

Thus far, I've been able to convince my son that this is a worthwhile game
and that there will come a time when he will be able to play with the
discursive genres of math and science, but I don't know how much longer I
can keep up that argument when it flies in the face of everything he is
learning in school. My son has some advantages b.c. as a boy, there are
certain expectations that he will do well in math and science (and I have
done a fair bit of proleptically interpellating him as an engineer, but
that could easily have the opposite effect at any point in his life...). I
have also tried to provide examples of
science-as-story-telling-and-problem-solving as I did when we went on a
hike last weekend and I told him the story of the discovery of pheromones
(Martha McClintock was a prof where I was in grad school so I knew her
personal story as well as her story of discovery and was able to tell it in
a compelling manner). But I do wonder if those few conversations, few and
far between, are really going to amount to much compared to the day after
day drilling of skills that he is getting in school. I hope so. And I also
have three more girls coming up through the ranks in my household who will
not have the advantage of being a gender that is socially recognized as
being "good at math and science" - hopefully I can learn something from my
son's experiences. So I really hope so with them as well. But for now I'm
very anxious...

-greg



On Fri, Aug 1, 2014 at 5:57 AM, Bella Kotik-Friedgut <bella.kotik@gmail.com>
wrote:

> I want to retell a personal story of a student who shared it in my M.A.
> Vygotsky class at HU some years ago. (Today he has Ph.D in education).
> He always was recognized as a talented writer and poet, receiving
>  different literary prizes as a teenager. But he had some problems with
> math and somebody explained him that these talents do not go together, that
> his struggle with math is because of his literary talent. And in addition
> "You belong to the Moroccans and this is not a good sign for math
> capacities"  So he received it verdict and graduated school without
> matriculation exam in math, which is a serious obstacle for higher
> education.
> Being at the army service, he was lucky to meet a teacher who explained him
> that who stopped him from studying math was just wrong: "A talented person
> is talented in all he does"  This became his new slogan and he studied and
> successfully made the matriculation test in math and made education his
> professional field.
> So the social-cultural aspect here was working clearly.
>
>
> Sincerely yours Bella Kotik-Friedgut
>
>
> On Fri, Aug 1, 2014 at 11:30 AM, Helen Grimmett <helen.grimmett@monash.edu
> >
> wrote:
>
> > Thanks Anna, for both the reassurance and the citations.
> >
> > I've just been having a conversation with my kids in the car on the way
> > home from school about this idea that maths is a form of story telling
> and
> > they both looked at me as though I was crazy! Yet when I mentioned the
> idea
> > at lunch to my maths education colleagues they both adamantly agreed.
> > Clearly there is some secret here that mathematicians (and gifted maths
> > educators) get that is not being passed on to the rest of us mere
> mortals.
> > I'm not saying that my kids and I are not "good" at maths (we've learnt
> to
> > play the old maths game quite well, but just don't like playing it) but
> how
> > interesting to think that there is a whole different way of seeing maths
> > that could have changed our perspective of the game completely.
> >
> > Cheers,
> > Helen
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > Dr Helen Grimmett
> > Lecturer, Student Adviser,
> > Faculty of Education,
> > Room G64F, Building 902
> > Monash University, Berwick campus
> > Phone: 9904 7171
> >
> > *New Book: *
> > The Practice of Teachers' Professional Development: A Cultural-Historical
> > Approach
> > <
> >
> https://www.sensepublishers.com/catalogs/bookseries/professional-learning-1/the-practice-of-teachers-professional-development/
> > >
> > Helen Grimmett (2014) Sense Publishers
> >
> >
> >
> > <
> >
> http://monash.edu.au/education/news/50-years/?utm_source=staff-email&utm_medium=email-signature&utm_campaign=50th
> > >
> >
> >
> > On 1 August 2014 17:03, anna sfard <sfard@netvision.net.il> wrote:
> >
> > > Hi Helen,
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > My daughter made a similar decision, once upon time. I already knew
> then
> > > that what she liked more than anything else was art, so I did not try
> to
> > > dissuade her. And artist did she become. Or designer, to be precise.
> And
> > > see what happened: design does require some technical/
> > > scientific/mathematical thinking (math was a condition when she applied
> > to
> > > the Academy of Art, but the amount she had done was deemed sufficient,
> > > considering her other strengths), and she was perfectly able to master
> > > whatever mathematics was necessary whenever this learning was for some
> > > "real" purpose.
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > This said, i understand your worry, and must admit it is justified.
> There
> > > is a game being played out there, and  either you play it or you may
> > lose.
> > > I do hope, though, that your daughter will only gain: first, she will
> > earn
> > > a few less stressful, happier years in school, and then she may find a
> > way
> > > among the hurdles just as my daughter did. And if she faces the real
> need
> > > for math latter in life, I'm sure she will cope. It will be a whole
> > > different story then (it will be a story to begin with)! In any case, I
> > > think the gains of your daughter's decision overweight the potential
> > > losses, with one of the latter being her poor first-person identity,
> lack
> > > of self-confidence, etc, etc.
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > And as to the refs you are asking for, the paper was originally written
> > as
> > > guest  editorial for a math ed journal edited by students in Univ of
> > > Georgia, Athens:
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > Sfard, A. (2012). Why Mathematics? What Mathematics? - Guest editorial.
> > *The
> > > Mathematics Educator, 22*(1), 3-16.
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > Then it was republished as a chapter in a book (and what I've sent are
> > the
> > > proofs of the chapter):
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > Sfard, A. (2013). Why Mathematics? What Mathematics? In M. Pitici
> (Ed.),
> > *The
> > > best writings on mathematics* (pp. 130-142). Princeton, NJ ‎: Princeton
> > > University ‎Press
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > anna
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > *From:* Helen Grimmett [mailto:helen.grimmett@monash.edu]
> > > *Sent:* Friday, August 01, 2014 5:56 AM
> > > *To:* eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity; sfard@netvision.net.il
> > > *Subject:* Re: [Xmca-l] Re: NYTimes.com: Why Do Americans Stink at
> Math?
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > Thanks for sharing this editorial Anna. Can you please post the
> citation
> > > for it? I would like to share it with my maths colleagues, but it also
> > > provides interesting reassurance for me about letting my daughter
> > > discontinue maths at the end of this year (Year 10). She is a very high
> > > achieving student but detests maths and science (she already dropped
> > > science at the end of year 9 despite winning the Yr 9 Science prize in
> > her
> > > selective entry school) and has often said that she is only interested
> in
> > > subjects that let her tell stories (she includes music as one of
> these).
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > I must admit I've never thought of maths as a form of story telling
> > before
> > > and I wonder if her schooling had taken this approach to maths whether
> it
> > > would have managed to spark her interest and keep her engaged in the
> > > subject. In her early secondary school years when science was
> compulsory
> > > she often mentioned that she thought it was possible that 'real'
> science
> > > would be quite interesting, but that 'school' science was intolerable.
> > Her
> > > stress levels about school have dropped considerably this year now that
> > she
> > > doesn't have to suffer through endless (and in her eyes pointless)
> > science
> > > homework and assignments. I appreciate that dropping maths will lead to
> > > another huge reduction in any remaining school dissatisfaction and give
> > her
> > > more space to pursue the wide range of subjects that do fascinate her,
> > yet
> > > I still keep telling her I worry about her closing possible doors for
> > > avenues of study in the future.
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > Reading your editorial makes me realise that perhaps what I'm more
> > worried
> > > about is that "unofficial argument" that maths is a selection tool. In
> > all
> > > honesty my concern is perhaps more with what it says to others when she
> > > says she dropped maths at Year 10, than with the doors it might close
> or
> > > with what she will miss out on knowing by not continuing maths into
> Year
> > 11
> > > and 12. Naming this unofficial argument makes the hollowness of it very
> > > transparent. I believe she is smart enough to have seen through this
> > > argument (not just too naive to see it) and brave enough and gifted
> > enough
> > > to challenge it. I owe it to her to be brave too.
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > It will indeed be a great day when school maths and science is
> reimagined
> > > in ways that do not do more harm than good for a huge number of
> students.
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > My thanks again,
> > >
> > > Helen
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > Dr Helen Grimmett
> > > Lecturer, Student Adviser,
> > >
> > > Faculty of Education,
> > >
> > > Room G64F, Building 902
> > > Monash University, Berwick campus
> > > Phone: 9904 7171
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > *New Book: *
> > >
> > > The Practice of Teachers' Professional Development: A
> Cultural-Historical
> > > Approach
> > > <
> >
> https://www.sensepublishers.com/catalogs/bookseries/professional-learning-1/the-practice-of-teachers-professional-development/
> > >
> > >
> > > Helen Grimmett (2014) Sense Publishers
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > [image: Image removed by sender.]
> > > <
> >
> http://monash.edu.au/education/news/50-years/?utm_source=staff-email&utm_medium=email-signature&utm_campaign=50th
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > On 31 July 2014 23:47, anna sfard <sfard@netvision.net.il> wrote:
> > >
> > > " Doesn't it make sense that somebody should stand up and ask "why are
> we
> > > teaching mathematics?"
> > >
> > >
> > > Already done, Michael - see the attached.
> > >
> > > anna
> > >
> > > PS. This is a fascinating conversation. I wish I could allow myself to
> > > participate properly.
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > -----Original Message-----
> > > From: xmca-l-bounces+sfard=netvision.net.il@mailman.ucsd.edu
> > > [mailto:xmca-l-bounces+sfard=netvision.net.il@mailman.ucsd.edu] On
> > Behalf
> > > Of
> > > Glassman, Michael
> > >
> > > Sent: Thursday, July 31, 2014 4:25 PM
> > > To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> > > Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: NYTimes.com: Why Do Americans Stink at Math?
> > >
> > >
> > > So here is my question.  We have gone through basically a century of
> > this.
> > > We teach mathematics and some people get it - the people in my
> experience
> > > really love mathematics - but most people don't.  It's just something
> you
> > > do
> > > to get some place else (I am reminded of my attitude towards statistics
> > > courses in graduate school).  So we keep banging our head against the
> > wall
> > > again and again.  Doesn't it make sense that somebody should stand up
> and
> > > ask "why are we teaching mathematics?"  - as a subject I mean, it is
> > still
> > > an important field of study.  This is something we just made up mostly
> > for
> > > the sake of "efficiency" - although it is not very efficient.  But
> there
> > is
> > > nothing to suggest that this is a good idea, and there are a lot of
> > things
> > > to suggest that maybe we're on the wrong track here as far as education
> > in
> > > concerned.  This was actually an argument about specific subjects in
> the
> > > 20s
> > > and 30s, but we have been so unsuccessful and been so frustrated its
> > pretty
> > > amazing that it  hasn't come up again.  Why not let mathematics emerge
> in
> > > the course of what we do?  Is the type of mathematics we learn in the
> > > classroom transferable anyway?
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > Maybe a bit heretical, but perhaps the idea should be raised every once
> > in
> > > a
> > > while.
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > Michael
> > >
> > > ________________________________________
> > >
> > > From:  <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>
> > >
> > > xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu] on
> > > behalf
> > > of Ed Wall [ewall@umich.edu]
> > >
> > > Sent: Thursday, July 31, 2014 8:10 AM
> > >
> > > To:  <mailto:lchcmike@gmail.com> lchcmike@gmail.com; eXtended Mind,
> > > Culture,
> > >
> > > Activity
> > >
> > > Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: NYTimes.com: Why Do Americans Stink at Math?
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > Mike
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >         As I said I am not a blissful optimist.
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >         Liping Ma made the point some time ago that, in fact, something
> > > like
> > > this would not be possible until a generation of students (perhaps two)
> > had
> > > been taught to reasonably (and what this means can be usefully debated)
> > > understand what was going on (by the way, being able to do it in a rote
> > > fashion indicates, at least, that one understands the procedure).
> Parents
> > > can help and hinder (most, if treated respectfully, want to help).
> > >
> > >         Perhaps a story will indicate where I'm at. A number of years
> > ago,
> > > I
> > > was at a conference sitting next to a young graduate student with a
> > policy
> > > background who was sort of interested in the mathematics mess. Finally,
> > she
> > > could stand no more and blurted out something like , "I can't
> understand
> > > why
> > > you people are fussing about all this math teaching business, the kids
> in
> > > the inner city schools will never appreciate it." I turned to her and
> > said
> > > sadly something like, "You are possibly right, but I can't act as if I
> > > believe so. Does that make sense?" She nodded yes.
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >        It is not just UCSD students who have problems with this. One of
> > my
> > > friends did something with fractions in his calculus class  at UM
> > (smile).
> > > Part of the problem, I think, is that fractions in general have little
> > > practical meaning for many people (unlike the natural numbers); they
> are,
> > > in
> > > a sense, somewhat of a historical artifact. It is moderately easy to
> > > intervene on this at certain points in the school curriculum although
> > > asking
> > > why is useful.
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > Ed
> > >
> > >
> > > On Jul 30, 2014, at 10:01 PM, mike cole < <mailto:lchcmike@gmail.com>
> > >
> > > lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > > That all seems reasonable to me, Ed. But it strikes me as a real
> > >
> > > > problem when the average "top 12% of California high school
> graduates"
> > >
> > > > cannot help a kid who has to figure out how to divide  one fraction
> > >
> > > > into another. Or if they help its because they "teach the rule" (as
> > >
> > > > in, invert and multiply) but cannot explain why they do this.
> > >
> > > >
> > >
> > > > I think its a challenge to teachers and god bless those who can
> > >
> > > > emulate your approach. But its a challenge to parents, even UCSD
> > >
> > > > graduates aplenty, who cannot explain what they are doing in
> > > understandable terms.
> > >
> > > >
> > >
> > > > That good teachers can teach it, give the opportunity I believe. That
> > >
> > > > this is, or is likely to become, the universally accepted norm for
> > >
> > > > everyone, I fear I doubt. But oh my goodness, how happy I would be to
> > be
> > > wrong!
> > >
> > > > mike
> > >
> > > >
> > >
> > > >
> > >
> > > > On Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 12:46 PM, Ed Wall < <mailto:ewall@umich.edu>
> > >
> > > ewall@umich.edu> wrote:
> > >
> > > >
> > >
> > > >> Katherine
> > >
> > > >>
> > >
> > > >>       I think yes to your next to last question. However, what
> > >
> > > >> sometimes concerns me (and we are perhaps back to optimism and
> > >
> > > >> pessimism) is that looking for a future which may or may not occur
> > >
> > > >> seems 'unfair' to the students of today. I'm for thoughtful baby
> > >
> > > >> steps (and babies do stumble) now on all fronts and, unlike Carol, I
> > > don't yet know the 'right' answer.
> > >
> > > >> However, I would like to know (smile).
> > >
> > > >>
> > >
> > > >> Ed
> > >
> > > >>
> > >
> > > >> On Jul 30, 2014, at 3:32 PM, Katherine Wester Neal <
> > >
> > > <mailto:wester@uga.edu> wester@uga.edu> wrote:
> > >
> > > >>
> > >
> > > >>> I think we're all on to something here--just different parts of the
> > >
> > > >>> same
> > >
> > > >> thing. To put it all together, I'm thinking of a spiderweb. On
> > >
> > > >> individual strands, our spiderweb includes:
> > >
> > > >>>
> > >
> > > >>> 1. The differences in contact time and the difficulty of sustaining
> > >
> > > >> meaningful (or really any kind of) change when one is teaching 1,100
> > > hours.
> > >
> > > >>> 2. The pressures of testing.
> > >
> > > >>> 3. The cultural value of childhood, teaching in general, elementary
> > >
> > > >> teachers, and testing as an educational goal in the U.S.
> > >
> > > >>> 4. Making changes in teachers' practices, the way schools work, the
> > >
> > > >> culture of testing, and how students' creative capacities are
> > developed.
> > >
> > > >>> 5. Resistance from parents, teachers, and teacher educators to new
> > >
> > > >>> ways
> > >
> > > >> of learning/new ideas, which is often a result of deeply ingrained
> > >
> > > >> prior experiences.
> > >
> > > >>>
> > >
> > > >>> I probably didn't get everything that's been discussed, but these
> > >
> > > >>> are
> > >
> > > >> all issues that should be examined in concert because they are all
> > >
> > > >> connected as part of the same larger system. Although "system" isn't
> > >
> > > >> probably the word I should use with a Vygotskian framework (I'm
> still
> > >
> > > >> learning), I use to say that I'm not sure how an individual could
> > >
> > > >> deal with one of these strands without affecting or needing to work
> > with
> > > the others.
> > >
> > > >> Does it take the effort of a collective, working on multiple strands
> > >
> > > >> simultaneously, to make more than a dent? Or to borrow Ed's words,
> > >
> > > >> how do we reshape the dent or make it bigger?
> > >
> > > >>>
> > >
> > > >>> Katie
> > >
> > > >>>
> > >
> > > >>> Katie Wester-Neal
> > >
> > > >>> University of Georgia
> > >
> > > >>>
> > >
> > > >>> ________________________________________
> > >
> > > >>> From:  <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>
> > > xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
> > >
> > > >>> < <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>
> > > xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>
> > >
> > > >> on behalf of Ed Wall < <mailto:ewall@umich.edu> ewall@umich.edu>
> > >
> > >
> > > >>> Sent: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 3:00 PM
> > >
> > > >>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> > >
> > > >>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: NYTimes.com: Why Do Americans Stink at Math?
> > >
> > > >>>
> > >
> > > >>> Greg
> > >
> > > >>>
> > >
> > > >>>     I agree with much of what you write below. However, there may
> be
> > >
> > > >>> a
> > >
> > > >> disjunct between what you think is happening (and in many instances
> I
> > >
> > > >> agree with you) and the shape of the denting I am speaking about. I
> > >
> > > >> begin my methods courses talking about the commitments I bring to
> > >
> > > >> teaching (stressing they are mine and that teachers and pre-service
> > >
> > > >> teachers are welcome to push back)
> > >
> > > >>>
> > >
> > > >>> 1. I believe in promoting collective student and teacher engagement
> > >
> > > >> i(and I meant both!)
> > >
> > > >>> 2. I believe in having students do substantial mathematical work
> > >
> > > >>> (and
> > >
> > > >> that is where the constraints of the context can come into play -
> > >
> > > >> don't necessarily read into this 'new math' or tedious computations)
> > >
> > > >>> 3. I believe in taking my students' thinking seriously (this
> > >
> > > >>> includes
> > >
> > > >> (mis)understandings!!)
> > >
> > > >>>
> > >
> > > >>> I have yet, by the way, to find an instance (and that includes
> > >
> > > >>> school
> > >
> > > >> location and students, testing, whatever) where such commitments are
> > >
> > > >> impossible or, in a pragmatic sense, even moderately difficult (most
> > >
> > > >> often the difficulty is learning to value one's students which is
> > >
> > > >> more of a choice although one needs to be aware of the possibility).
> > >
> > > >> I would very much appreciate your suggesting some instances where
> > >
> > > >> such commitments were situationally impossible. My students and I
> > >
> > > >> (teachers and pre-service
> > >
> > > >> teachers) then spend a semester (and perhaps more) together - with
> > >
> > > >> feedback from classroom and field experiences - figuring out what
> > >
> > > >> kind of  teaching (keeping in mind my commitments) can be sustained
> > >
> > > >> (and it will differ and they need to know this and accommodate to
> > >
> > > >> this). I am not unusual (perhaps read 'rare' - smile). In fact I
> have
> > >
> > > >> a number of colleagues who are considerably more capable.
> > >
> > > >>>
> > >
> > > >>>    Philip Jackson (or was it Dan Lortie) used to talk about the
> > >
> > > >> apprenticeship of observation. People, he argued, learn to teach -
> > >
> > > >> for the most part - by observing as students in regular classroom.
> > >
> > > >> That should give one pause for a variety of reasons. I have sat
> > >
> > > >> through numerous faculty meetings where students are mentioned in
> > >
> > > >> less than a respectful fashion (and have heard anecdotes where that
> > >
> > > >> carried into the college classroom). I have heard elementary
> teachers
> > >
> > > >> spoken of quite disparagingly by faculty in Arts & Sciences and,
> > >
> > > >> while I agree their expertise is not always of the highest
> 'academic'
> > >
> > > >> quality, it is not clear to me that, in their own field of study,
> > >
> > > >> they are not more capable than their detractors. I have also seen an
> > >
> > > >> instructor continually stress 'nice' or 'comfortable' rather than
> > > 'challenging' or 'uncomfortable.'
> > >
> > > >>>
> > >
> > > >>>     I admit my commitments have hooks in them; for instance, what
> is
> > >
> > > >> substantial mathematics (you need to know some mathematics to figure
> > >
> > > >> this out); what is collective teacher and student engagement (you
> > >
> > > >> need to know some pedagogy to figure this out) and what does it mean
> > >
> > > >> to respect student thinking in view of the previous (you need to
> know
> > >
> > > >> some mathematics and some pedagogy to figure this out). However,
> they
> > >
> > > >> are a beginning and some of my students seem, in time, to grow into
> > them
> > > no matter the situation.
> > >
> > > >>>
> > >
> > > >>>    Anyway, I can't say I'm blissfully optimistic, but I'm not
> > >
> > > >> pessimistic either. I do know that culturally we often don't work
> > >
> > > >> together; that we tend to get mired in the trivial; and we often
> > >
> > > >> 'demonize' the stranger. I hate to think that we will never choose
> > >
> > > >> otherwise. However, to choose otherwise seems very far from
> > >
> > > >> impossible in the formal schooling context.
> > >
> > > >>>
> > >
> > > >>> Ed
> > >
> > > >>>
> > >
> > > >>> On Jul 30, 2014, at 1:42 PM, Greg Thompson
> > >
> > > >>> < <mailto:greg.a.thompson@gmail.com> greg.a.thompson@gmail.com>
> > >
> > >
> > > >> wrote:
> > >
> > > >>>
> > >
> > > >>>> Ed,
> > >
> > > >>>> Thanks for this wonderfully thoughtful reply. Very helpful.
> > >
> > > >>>>
> > >
> > > >>>> As for the teaching practices part, I entirely agree about the
> need
> > >
> > > >>>> for thoughtful attention to teaching practices and agree that
> great
> > >
> > > >>>> things
> > >
> > > >> can
> > >
> > > >>>> be accomplished locally. My sense, though, is that it takes great
> > >
> > > >> effort to
> > >
> > > >>>> sustain such smaller scale interventions (i.e. to make more than a
> > >
> > > >> dent).
> > >
> > > >>>> With regard to teaching practices, I would think that the way to
> > >
> > > >> approach a
> > >
> > > >>>> thoughtful teaching practice would be to start with the real
> > >
> > > >> constraints of
> > >
> > > >>>> context that teachers will regularly face and then try and figure
> > >
> > > >>>> out
> > >
> > > >> what
> > >
> > > >>>> kinds of teaching can be sustained given those constraints.
> > >
> > > >>>>
> > >
> > > >>>> That's where I'm most pessimistic. It is difficult for me to
> > >
> > > >>>> imagine developing responsible teaching practices that could be
> > >
> > > >>>> sustained on a larger scale given the cultural, institutional, and
> > >
> > > >>>> ideological context
> > >
> > > >> of
> > >
> > > >>>> schooling in the U.S. [and I might add that it seems like the
> > >
> > > >>>> history of teaching practice in the U.S. is a history where the
> > >
> > > >>>> same good ideas
> > >
> > > >> keep
> > >
> > > >>>> popping up and then fading from sight almost as quickly as they
> > >
> > > >> appeared].
> > >
> > > >>>>
> > >
> > > >>>> But I'm certainly open to ideas/suggestions for thoughtful
> > >
> > > >>>> pedagogical practices that are sustainable in the U.S. formal
> > > schooling
> > > context.
> > >
> > > >>>>
> > >
> > > >>>> -greg
> > >
> > > >>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>
> > >
> > > >>>> On Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 10:11 AM, Ed Wall < <mailto:
> ewall@umich.edu
> > >
> > >
> > > ewall@umich.edu> wrote:
> > >
> > > >>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>> Comments below
> > >
> > > >>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>> On Jul 30, 2014, at 11:33 AM, Greg Thompson
> > >
> > > >>>>> <greg.a.thompson@gmail.com
> > >
> > > >>>
> > >
> > > >>>>> wrote:
> > >
> > > >>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>>> I was hoping that somebody might be able to comment on the
> > >
> > > >>>>>> situation
> > >
> > > >> of
> > >
> > > >>>>>> schooling in Japan and whether or not these hypotheses about the
> > >
> > > >> Japanese
> > >
> > > >>>>>> situation of schooling might bear out:
> > >
> > > >>>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>>> 1. Teachers in Japan have time to develop their craft. 600
> annual
> > >
> > > >> hours
> > >
> > > >>>>> of
> > >
> > > >>>>>> contact time for teachers in Japan vs. 1100 hours of contact
> time
> > >
> > > >>>>>> in
> > >
> > > >> the
> > >
> > > >>>>>> U.S.
> > >
> > > >>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>> Yes
> > >
> > > >>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>>> 2. There is an ideology of childhood in Japan that values
> > >
> > > >>>>>> childhood
> > >
> > > >>>>> greatly
> > >
> > > >>>>>> and treats them as qualitatively distinct beings from
> adolescents
> > >
> > > >>>>>> and adults, and thus suggests that they should be protected from
> > >
> > > >>>>>> the cruel
> > >
> > > >>>>> and
> > >
> > > >>>>>> harsh practice of "testing". But this also means that elementary
> > >
> > > >> school
> > >
> > > >>>>>> teachers are held in high regard.
> > >
> > > >>>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>> Yes. However, it doesn't necessarily follow that this is why
> > >
> > > >>>>> elementary school teachers are held in high regard
> > >
> > > >>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>>> I guess the first seems a bit more factual but the second is
> more
> > >
> > > >>>>>> of
> > >
> > > >> an
> > >
> > > >>>>>> hypothesis, but if they bear out as important factors for
> > >
> > > >>>>>> enabling the
> > >
> > > >>>>> kind
> > >
> > > >>>>>> of learning that Green describes, then it seems to me that even
> > >
> > > >>>>>> if
> > >
> > > >> there
> > >
> > > >>>>>> were to be a huge push for training teachers in the U.S.,
> > >
> > > >>>>>> teachers
> > >
> > > >> would
> > >
> > > >>>>>> quickly revert to what we currently lament about teaching in the
> > > U.S.
> > >
> > > >> not
> > >
> > > >>>>>> because they are bad teachers or don't know how to teach in the
> > >
> > > >>>>>> more complex manner but rather simply because, with some rare
> > >
> > > >>>>>> exceptions,
> > >
> > > >> it
> > >
> > > >>>>> is
> > >
> > > >>>>>> IMPOSSIBLE to teach in the more desirable manner given the
> > >
> > > >>>>>> ridiculous amount of contact time and the fact that in the
> > >
> > > >>>>>> American ideology of childhood, the teaching of children is not
> > > valued particularly highly.
> > >
> > > >>>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>> This doesn't follow. It is possible and it is possible in highly
> > >
> > > >>>>> urban areas (and I amy misunderstand you use of the word 'rare').
> > >
> > > >>>>> That
> > >
> > > >> doesn't
> > >
> > > >>>>> mean that it is necessarily valued or supported by the
> > > powers-that-be.
> > >
> > > >>>>> There are a few more things to add to your facts: There is a
> > >
> > > >>>>> national curriculum in Japan and there is a reasonably effective
> > >
> > > >>>>> mentoring
> > >
> > > >> system
> > >
> > > >>>>> (largely teacher instigated). A 'fact' (and perhaps this is
> > >
> > > >>>>> anecdotal)
> > >
> > > >> is
> > >
> > > >>>>> that when it was first realized that some interesting things were
> > >
> > > >> happening
> > >
> > > >>>>> in Japanese schools (e.g. lesson study), the collegiate Japanese
> > >
> > > >> community
> > >
> > > >>>>> was caught, to a large degree, unaware. 'Master' lesson are
> > >
> > > >>>>> published
> > >
> > > >> by
> > >
> > > >>>>> teachers.
> > >
> > > >>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>>> In light of this, it seems a Sisyphean feat to try to change
> > > teachers'
> > >
> > > >>>>>> teaching practices without changing the cultural context in
> which
> > >
> > > >> those
> > >
> > > >>>>>> teachers work. And changing cultural contexts is perhaps even
> > >
> > > >>>>>> more difficult still.
> > >
> > > >>>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>> That was why I suggested a look at the Netherlands (which seem to
> > >
> > > >>>>> do as well or better than the Japanese). Of course, some of this
> > >
> > > >>>>> can still be explained because of cultural differences and how
> > > teachers are viewed.
> > >
> > > >>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>>> Maybe we should stop looking to teaching practices in formal
> > >
> > > >> schooling in
> > >
> > > >>>>>> the U.S. as a site of change?
> > >
> > > >>>>>> Maybe better to look outside and beyond schools altogether?
> > >
> > > >>>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>> Perhaps we should do as you suggest (and, to a limited extent and
> > >
> > > >>>>> in a sense, something like this has been done). However, it might
> > >
> > > >>>>> also be a
> > >
> > > >> good
> > >
> > > >>>>> idea to look at teaching practices in a thoughtful way. I have
> > >
> > > >>>>> seen
> > >
> > > >> very
> > >
> > > >>>>> little of this happening over the years. I was just talking to a
> > >
> > > >> colleague
> > >
> > > >>>>> today and, although we love our work in urban areas, we admit to
> > >
> > > >>>>> making only a small dent. We also admit to being underwhelmed by
> > >
> > > >>>>> views of education prevalent in many schools of education. It is
> > >
> > > >>>>> getting
> > >
> > > >> steadily
> > >
> > > >>>>> worse.
> > >
> > > >>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>>> Too pessimistic?
> > >
> > > >>>>>> -greg
> > >
> > > >>>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>> Pessimism is fine, but simply pessimism can be self limiting;
> > >
> > > >>>>> however, that is an opinion and not a fact.
> > >
> > > >>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>> Ed
> > >
> > > >>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>>> On Wed, Jul 30, 2014 at 6:02 AM, Ed Wall < <mailto:
> > ewall@umich.edu>
> > >
> > > ewall@umich.edu> wrote:
> > >
> > > >>>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>>>> Perhaps something of interest re this thread.
> > >
> > > >>>>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>>>> Ed Wall
> > >
> > > >>>>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>>
> > >
> > > >>  <
> > http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/29/opinion/joe-nocera-teaching-teachin
> > > >
> > >
> > > http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/29/opinion/joe-nocera-teaching-teachin
> > >
> > >
> > > >> g.html?_r=0
> > >
> > > >>>>>>>> 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.
> > >
> > > >>>>>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>>>>> Ed
> > >
> > > >>>>>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>>>>> On Jul 28, 2014, at 2:25 PM, Katherine Wester Neal
> > >
> > > >>>>>>>> < <mailto:wester@uga.edu> 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:  <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>
> > > xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu <
> > >
> > > >>>>>  <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>
> > > xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>
> > >
> > > >>>>>>> on behalf of Huw Lloyd < <mailto:huw.softdesigns@gmail.com>
> > >
> > > 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
> > >
> > > >>>>>>>>> < <mailto:greg.a.thompson@gmail.com>
> 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
> > >
> > > >>>>>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>>> --
> > >
> > > >>>>>> Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
> > >
> > > >>>>>> Assistant Professor
> > >
> > > >>>>>> Department of Anthropology
> > >
> > > >>>>>> 883 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
> > >
> > > >>>>>> Brigham Young University
> > >
> > > >>>>>> Provo, UT 84602
> > >
> > > >>>>>>  <http://byu.academia.edu/GregoryThompson>
> > > http://byu.academia.edu/GregoryThompson
> > >
> > > >>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>
> > >
> > > >>>>
> > >
> > > >>>> --
> > >
> > > >>>> Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
> > >
> > > >>>> Assistant Professor
> > >
> > > >>>> Department of Anthropology
> > >
> > > >>>> 883 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
> > >
> > > >>>> Brigham Young University
> > >
> > > >>>> Provo, UT 84602
> > >
> > > >>>>  <http://byu.academia.edu/GregoryThompson>
> > >
> > > http://byu.academia.edu/GregoryThompson
> > >
> > > >>>
> > >
> > > >>>
> > >
> > > >>
> > >
> > > >>
> > >
> > > >>
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> >
>



-- 
Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Anthropology
883 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602
http://byu.academia.edu/GregoryThompson