Washington Education Roundup

And now for something a little different 🙂 Yeah I’m growing tired of complaining about fault-tolerant haters too 😉
This article in the New York Times highlights concerns about math education here in the great state of Washington. Money quote:

In part, the math wars have grown out of a struggle between professional mathematicians, who say too many American students never master basic math skills, and math educators, who say children who construct their own problem-solving strategies retain their math skills better than those who just memorize the algorithm that produces the correct answer.

Which of course is silly. Mastery of basic math skills AND construction of their own problem-solving strategies is important for math education. It’s not an OR sort of game. Sadly I think “construction of their own problem-solving strategies” is a proxy for “water down the curriculum” while at the same time “mastery of basic math skills” is proxy for “only accepting answers done by the accepted algorithm.” Both are anoying as heck.
In related news, extremely long time readers of this blog are familiar with the WIT: the Washington Institute of Technology. WIT is my dream university which I’m planning on founding once I find the necessary billions of dollars to get it started. Well I’d better hurry up because the beginnings of a movement to build a polytechnic here in Washington: Seattle Times article here.

5 Replies to “Washington Education Roundup”

  1. Groan. Don’t get me started on this. Math and physics education in Oz suffers from there being a gigantic gulf between pros and teachers. Then it suffers again because of the gigantic gulf between pros who talk to teachers and pros who actually are the best at physics and math.
    BTW, you said “heck”. That’s funny darn it.

  2. In college I thought we should start Our Own Institute of Technology (OOIT). I’m not sure what the mascot would be, possibly a platypus or coelecanth.

  3. Your basic Elementary Ed type has a bug up his ass on the subject of rote memorization. It’s usually spoken of in El-Ed circles as something intrinsically evil, like infant cannibalism.
    But you know? Some times memorizing a formula is the best way to learn it. And if kids can memorize the words of Monty Python/Cheech & Chong/Firesign Theater albums (I’m dating myself, aren’t I?) it’s not going to kill them to learn the times tables.

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