One of the interesting tangents the class discussion took was to touch briefly on the "math wars" and why they make no sense. Prof. Bransford believes, as I do, that good math instruction includes both a focus on math concepts and theories as well as fluency with mathematical operations.
He had the chance to talk with one of the leaders of Singapore math in Singapore, and learned that what the way Singapore math is discussed in the US is not how it was designed or implemented in Singapore. The three core principals of Singapore math are supposed to be:
- Learning with understanding
- Fluency with math facts
- Managing the students' affective relationship with the subject (which translates into making sure students enjoy math and are excited about exploring the concepts and techniques and learning more)
Prof. Bransford also talked about the role of the media in promoting and sustaining the "math wars." I think, as part of the "new media" on this blog, we should try to play a role in putting an end to the "math wars."
No matter what you think and believe already, take some time to read some of the more balanced research and articles on the topic, ones that don't excessively promote either point of view, and see what you think.
I'd recommend starting with "Taking Measure: Does Modern Math Education Add Up?" a part of the "Research that Matters" series from the College of Education at the University of Washington.
And you might want to take a look at a couple of posts on math education on this blog:
- Math Update by Mel Westbrook
- An Observation by Michael Rice
- PI Story on New Math Standards by Charlie Mas
- Interesting Read by UW College of Education by Mel Westbrook (which discusses the UW piece I mention above)
- High School Math Curriculum Adoption by Charlie Mas
- New Math Standards by Charlie Mas
But I'd also love to hear other ideas for non-polarizing articles and books on the topic. Your suggestions?