\doc\web\97\08\mathbad.txt
>From: LScheffers@aol.com
>Date: Fri, 17 Oct 1997 19:32:03 -0400 (EDT)
>To: giftednet-l@warthog.cc.wm.edu
>Subject: Re: Illiteracy in affluent seventh grade (Chicago suburb)
><< This letter has some good points, but is yet another slamming of the idea
>of constructivist learning theory. I wonder if many of those who use this
as a
> dirty word really have a basis for doing so? T. Thompson
>
>I can only speak for myself. I am in data processing and I know that the
>current constructivist math methodologies are not giving students the
>necessary foundations for careers in systems engineering or computer science.
> These methodologies, as applied in wealthy, suburban Chicago school
>districts with extensive funding, turned my "formerly" gifted in the
>quantitative arena student into a "retarded" one. That is the only label
>that I can apply to results of 29% on math calculation, 32% on math
>problem-solving, and 52% on math concepts (vs. 99.5% three years previously).
> These results were at the beginning of seventh grade. On three different
>privately administered IQ tests with different instruments and different test
>administrators, my student has tested in the 135-140 IQ range in the
>quantitative area.
>
>On the sixth grade Illinois state test there was a question along the lines,
>"One in five students do something, there are 100 students, how many do the
>something?" Most of us would immediately think, "One-fifth of 100 is 20".
> My student drew 100 dots in groups of five, circled one in each group, and
>counted to 20. By current math standards she showed great problem-solving
>ability, right?
>
>Aside from the fact that taking that amount of time on a timed test has a
>tremendously negative impact on results, it proved my student was totally
>mathematically illiterate. By the end of sixth grade she didn't know that "1
>in 5" could be expressed as a fraction or ratio, or that 1/5 of 100 was
>multiplication by a fraction, or the commonly known math concept that 1/5 of
>100 is 20. Personally, I don't need to hear any more pet theories about the
>benefits of constuctivist math, given the incredible, possibly irreversible,
>damage done to my child by well-meaning teachers.
>
>Rather than learning the concepts and skills which are tested on
>individualized achievement tests, my student had had to write a research
>paper on designing a garden for three weeks in sixth grade math, spent three
>different one-week periods designing and *coloring* tessellations (one was 11
>X 17). What minimal homework was assigned was never even corrected by the
>teacher (it was in a paperback, which was never collected a single time) - my
>student turned homework in 100% wrong on purpose and still got full credit
>toward her grade for doing the homework (another student told her father that
>her "chicken scratches" met the teacher's requirement for showing her work).
> There was also another 3-week group project to use a string and the fact
>that that world is 25,000 miles around to figure out the area of the Roman
>Empire. Again, there was a required paper, including a reason for what
>caused the fall of the Roman Empire! My student's team turned in an area of
>5,200 sq. miles and had no clue as to how to determine the percentage of land
>mass. They still received a B+ on the paper.
>
>When my student qualified for Stanford's Education Program for Gifted Youth
>(EPGY), I found I had to "flunk" my student back to third grade level,
>because there were so many gaping holes in math foundations.
>
>I believe a search will find the URL for the Mathematically Correct site,
>which is largely dedicated to disputing any validity of the "fuzzy" math
>processes. I think it was founded by engineers and computer science types in
>California who have realized that the current math teachings will not
>remotely qualify students for careers in the well-paying fields of
>engineering and computer science. I have also heard that the Electrical
>Engineering association is considering making a formal policy statement
>against the current NCTM-based math methodologies. I certainly believe that
>these types of professionals are much better qualified to assess the
>ramifications and requirements of math instruction than math education
>majors, who have never made a living with their math abilities.
>
>In fact, the new methodologies have now been around long enough for the
>impact at the colleges to be felt - large percentages of freshman are now in
>remedial math and/or English classes (I have heard 27% for Ohio, 30% for the
>nation as a whole, and 52% for some California State colleges).
>
>To paraphase John's question above, "I wonder how many of those who
>implemented constuctivist math across the entire country really had found any
>peer-reviewed research basis in support of the theory behind treating this
>generation of students as experimental guinea pigs?"
>
>Lauren
>
>