Thursday, August 16, 2012

MAA spokesperson responds to the recent controversy over algebra education in this longish piece:

A core part:
 "So we face three distinct challenges:
-    Addressing the many weaknesses evident in mathematical learning;
-    Reducing the gulf between the traditional pre-calculus curriculum and the quantitative needs of life, work, and citizenship;
- Teaching mathematics in a way that encourages transfer—for citizenship, for career, and for further study.
I suggest that these three challenges are manifestations of a single problem, and that all three can be addressed in the same way:  by organizing the curriculum to pay greater attention to the goal of transferable knowledge and skills.
There are many ways to accomplish this, for example:
- by embedding mathematics in courses focused on applications of mathematics;
- by team-taught cross-disciplinary courses that blend mathematics with other subjects in which mathematical thinking arises (e.g., genetics, personal finance, medical technology);
- by project-focused curricula in which all school subjects are submerged into a class group project (e.g., design a solar powered car).
- by career-focused curricula in which a cohort of students focuses all their school work on particular career areas (e.g., technology, communications, or business)."

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