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Re: [Phys-l] Old News That Stays News

• From: Jack Uretsky <jlu@hep.anl.gov>
• Date: Sun, 20 Jul 2008 17:28:07 -0500 (CDT)

Hi all-
It's important to check and make sure that they're really doing what they claim to be doing. Concepts first? Right on! Straight out of Arons.
BUT, what they're really doing is teaching vocabulary - not concepts. Arons said it right. Concept BEFORE name.

We can easily grasp, from examples, that 5x39 is the same as 39'x5, We've added nothing to the kid's math proficiency by teaching her the word
"commutativity". That was the problem with the new math of the '60's (when I made my kids do old math in workbooks). Names like "set", "union", "intersection", were taught in a context when the kids are not going to be applying set theory. This was the math education of the parents who are presently unable to assist their kids with today's homework.

The discussion of cool ways to calculate 5x88 misses the point, I think, because it is really emphasising that there are clever ways to handle special cases. I believe that a sense of numeracy comes from understanding methods that are applicable to every case. A good sense of such methods is also helpful when learning to manipulate algebraic symbols - but that is another rant.
Regards,
Jack

On Sun, 20 Jul 2008, chuck britton wrote:

'New Math' came along shortly after the Sputnick wake-up call.

My sister in the second grade was using the same words that I was
being introduced to in NSF summer math institutes.

i.e. associative, distributive and commutative properties

I could have handled those concepts in the second grade - but they
would just be a fun add-on to the rote work.

It was in the second grade that I finished up a one and two digit
exercise in addition and decided to go back and repeat the problems
This was just to fend off boredom.

When I came to the somewhat unexpected 'problem' of subtracting seven
from four - I just made up a new notation - the answer is clearly
'three in-the-hole' so I wrote down the three and drew a circle
around it to signify 'in-the-hole'.

wasn't bothered too much with the extra scribbling.

On Jul 20, 2008, at Jul 20(Sun) 1:03 , John Denker wrote:

Here's something you don't see every day: An informative, non-
polemical,
non-hysterical news article about new math ± old math.

http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/wayoflife/07/18/

Story Highlights
# Parents sometimes struggle with kids' concept-based math curricula
# Method teach the ideas behind mathematics, rather than rote
procedures
# Parents don't understand the new methods; can't help with homework
# Rebel parents teach kids the old -fashioned math methods
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_______________________________________________
Forum for Physics Educators
Phys-l@carnot.physics.buffalo.edu
https://carnot.physics.buffalo.edu/mailman/listinfo/phys-l

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