The Myth About Traditional Math

Barry Garelick discusses myth versus reality in his article “The Myth About Traditional Math Education” published today in Education News.

“The education establishment continues to advance faddish techniques such as group and collaborative learning, inquiry-based and problem-based learning, while it pays lip service to traditional approaches, calling it a “balanced approach”. While there are aspects of teaching and texts of the past that could definitely be improved, the question remains why the educational establishment remains intent on throwing the baby out with the bath water.”

Garelick notes what we in Prince William County, and just about every school district in the nation, have encountered in the past decade – overt misrepresentations and deliberate distortions of what constitutes “traditional math”. Phrases like “drill and kill” and “plug and chug” and the unsubstantiated and oftentimes incorrect assertion that “traditional math failed thousands of students”. Unlike those in the education establishment who appear content to regurgitate canned talking points without bothering to verify the accuracy of those talking points, Graelick actually bases his conclusions on test data from the 40’s 50’s and 60’s and actually looked at textbooks from that same era, and he presents that data and images from those textbooks for you to consider.

Garelick’s points are probably worth keeping in mind as PWCS has begun considering Math textbooks again, which will be used in our schools in the Fall of 2012 to teach our children the VA SOLs.

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