Thursday, October 10, 2013

CCSSM... "the real work must begin"

I'm slowly (very slowly) making my way through Edward Frenkel's "Love and Math" -- I love the story he tells and what he is attempting to accomplish with this volume, even though much of the mathematics eludes me. He gets an A+ though for his sheer effort at making the Langlands Program (and other cutting-edge abstract math) comprehensible to us novices.  At some point I'll say more about the book, but for now what I find interesting is that Frenkel keeps popping up in various other popular media commenting on several different math subjects (not merely publicizing his book).
A recent piece is this one at Huffington Post which is a follow-up to one at the Wall St. Journal (both co-written with Hung-Hsi Wu).

These articles concern the controversial "Common Core State Standards For Mathematics" or CCSSM. Different folks have put forth arguments pro and con this initiative that has now been established by the great majority of states. I found Frenkel's clear support for CCSSM interesting, since one of the storylines of his new book is how uninspiring he found the standard math schooling in his own native Soviet Union... only the luck of encountering an especially creative, interesting, one-on-one mentor drew him over to the subject.
(Parenthetically, when I told a friend I was reading a book entitled "Love and Math," she immediately responded, "Now THAT'S an oxymoron! those are two words that ought never be used in the same sentence." :-( Of course she speaks for a LOT of people in feeling that way, and that is exactly the anti-math bias Frenkel wants to ultimately overcome.)

He lays out his support for CCSSM in the WSJ article, but then in the HuffPost piece admits that CCSSM will fail dismally ("setting back math education in this country by decades"), UNLESS it is accompanied by the proper textbooks and teacher training to make it successful. He contends that the texts currently used for the "national curriculum" have "staggering" "deficiencies," but newer options are on the way, and there is MUCH work to do to insure CCSSM's much-needed success.

The article ends this way:
"Math education is a multi-dimensional problem. Its solution will require time, money, effort, and deep commitment from everyone involved. But this is a problem we must confront because the future of a generation of students is at stake. By introducing rigorous national standards, the CCSSM have made a major breakthrough, laying the groundwork for progress. Now the real work must begin."
If you're an educator, or otherwise interested in CCSSM, do read his HuffPost piece and its links.

Of course there's plenty more info/discussion about CCSSM available on the Web, as well:

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