So we had our monthly math meeting for our district and one of the items on the agenda was the “final report.”
The focus was; “How do the programs we are piloting fit in with the recommendations of the N.A.M.P. report?” There was talk about the U.S. mathematic textbooks being too long and how that is in response to the state standards. We had some nice discussion about how countries in Asia are doing less but more (depth vs. breadth) but how they are turning to the U.S. for how they solve problems. Although there was a general consensus that we aren’t necessarily great problem solvers (I do not think that a problem masquerading as an algorithm constitutes problem solving. For example-There are 32 rows of corn in a field. Each row has 22 stalks. How many stalks are there in all?).
As I have read through this report several times, I realized that this report is a front for pushing an agenda. It seems as if the panel members are in line to receive federal funding ($260million) to create a research based program. Roger Schank has a great article about the problems arising from the report and the people involved. As well, they basically slam “real-world” problem solving, saying that it only measures how students solve real-world problems. And what is wrong with that? Are students going to work in the real world and solve problems that occur over two days (short answer day 1 and long answer day 2)?
Another point that I can to think about was, why is Algebra the end all be all. The blog dy/dan has an interesting post about the need for Algebra for the masses. The comments are great food for thought as well. Maybe some thought should be given to having students pursue rigorous math courses that are of interest to them.