tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7478606652950905956.post8345283269778492990..comments2024-02-20T22:52:58.930-08:00Comments on Cliff Mass Weather Blog: Seattle, Bellevue, and Issaquah: School Districts Versus Good Math EducationCliff Mass Weather Bloghttp://www.blogger.com/profile/13948649423540350788noreply@blogger.comBlogger21125tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7478606652950905956.post-11792250259549844472010-03-12T10:13:08.276-08:002010-03-12T10:13:08.276-08:00Kerry asks why so many teachers are pushing so har...Kerry asks why so many teachers are pushing so hard for Discovery. As a retired high school math teacher, I can give you my perspective. It is because teachers generally are word-oriented. The are verbal learners. They, even those who go into teaching math, are most comfortable with literature and verbal language, not symbolic language (logic, math). They got through college and grad school writing essays, not writing formulas. Their recreation is reading, doing crossword puzzles, watching plays, and other verbal activities, not playing chess, reading Euclid for enjoyment (he's fascinating and fun to read), or doing logic or math based games and recreations.<br /><br />Thus, when they come to teach a subject, because they are more comfortable with a language based approach, that is what they prefer to use. This is how they learned, obviously they are highly intelligent and successful people, so this is how they feel most comfortable teaching and how they think teaching SHOULD go. There's nothing vindictive or anti-student about it. It's just that this is their comfort level, this is their sincere belief in what education is all about. Because writing essays is the way they learned and what they are most successful at, they really believe that the way to learn to solve math problems is not to solve problems, but to write essays about solving problems. <br /><br />The real problem isn't with the math books, though they are certainly part of the problem. The real problem is having the language of math taught by people whose core language literacy is in English and not in mathematics.Christopherhttps://www.blogger.com/profile/02487693248816810787noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7478606652950905956.post-8434150571303737522010-03-12T10:00:36.255-08:002010-03-12T10:00:36.255-08:00Our son is about to enter High School. As we tour...Our son is about to enter High School. As we toured several high schools in the Seattle District we made special effort to ensure we talked with math teachers. The results were that the teachers carefully skirted the issue by saying they were having challenges with some of the text and used a great deal of supplementation. They stated that the book is only one tool, and how the teacher approaches the material is more important. We got the overall impression that the teachers don’t like the text and are finding ways to work around it.<br /><br />Last summer we hired a math tutor, not because our son needs extra support, but because we wanted him to learn math in a logical way before being exposed to this ridiculous program. After four months in the Discovery Geometry program, we have now taken our son out of the Seattle Schools math program and have him doing a private online school math course as an equivalency course. <br /><br />At one of the high schools the principal asked us to think carefully about why we were rushing him through math (he’s finished Algebra I, which we had him do because we were certain he missed some important foundational concepts, and will start Geometry in mid April). We thought carefully about the principal’s question. Was it that we were overbearing parents pushing our child? The answer was no. The reasons we are hurrying him through math at the private online school are 1) he loves math and wants to keep going, and 2) we simply want to get him past the Discovering Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II texts. The Key Curriculum Press pre-calc and calculus books are excellent and it will come as no surprise that they are written by different authors from the earlier texts. <br /><br />I am so grateful to you Cliff for bringing this up in your blog. I would never have know about it without your posts. You have saved at least one child’s math education, and both he and I are very grateful.crabitathttps://www.blogger.com/profile/09075188314605952949noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7478606652950905956.post-41133552088887799762010-03-11T21:19:03.528-08:002010-03-11T21:19:03.528-08:00The school board could care less about the kids - ...The school board could care less about the kids - proven easily when they support inferior math texts. Says a lot about their integrtity, doesn't it?Big Wavehttps://www.blogger.com/profile/12818648672772663106noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7478606652950905956.post-73851319596870364972010-03-11T18:55:06.325-08:002010-03-11T18:55:06.325-08:00Thank you, Cliff Mass for bothering to be so vocal...Thank you, Cliff Mass for bothering to be so vocal about your opposition to the discovery math debacle. I welcome your thoughts on this and other issues about which you feel so strongly. Cheerssince1971https://www.blogger.com/profile/12903315109215032788noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7478606652950905956.post-29436394003546033502010-03-11T16:56:42.424-08:002010-03-11T16:56:42.424-08:00As a Bellevue parent, we paid for outside Math edu...As a Bellevue parent, we paid for outside Math education for our kid. Who is now in college thanks to our support. But as to those awful books I don't understand who is being paid off but it sure looks like they have anyone but the kids best interest at heart.GaryP.https://www.blogger.com/profile/16946775119505539856noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7478606652950905956.post-81501517643365524862010-03-11T10:10:49.522-08:002010-03-11T10:10:49.522-08:00Boy, am I going to get a lot of students to tutor!...Boy, am I going to get a lot of students to tutor! <br />I believe that "Discovering Math" is great for SOME students.<br /> If we do not want to close any doors for our students, they need to learn skills as well as problem solving.Unknownhttps://www.blogger.com/profile/14489290508951841681noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7478606652950905956.post-45686678940462297442010-03-11T07:03:51.668-08:002010-03-11T07:03:51.668-08:00Keep up the good work. I tried to do my daughter&...Keep up the good work. I tried to do my daughter's homework (Bellevue HS, 10th grade) Monday night, and it was ridiculously confusing, and I know some math.John Vidalehttps://www.blogger.com/profile/09871768524749705799noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7478606652950905956.post-12915170544063572762010-03-11T03:17:09.620-08:002010-03-11T03:17:09.620-08:00Math is one of the few subjects that has an object...Math is one of the few subjects that has an objective measure of competency, and it's tailor-made to measure the comprehension. Either the student can do the math or they cannot. <br /><br />What that means is that math, of all the subjects, scares the hell out of teachers unions. If they do a poor job of teaching this subject it shows and is easily measured and quantified. <br /><br />If all of the students fail math it's not a teach problem -- and that's what these books do. They supply a dumbed-down curriculum that results in students testing poorly regardless of the quality of the teachers -- which suits the union just fine. No worries about merit raises when everyone fails.Bruce Kinghttps://www.blogger.com/profile/10995706761794063165noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7478606652950905956.post-39619368686592037392010-03-10T18:35:46.575-08:002010-03-10T18:35:46.575-08:00I teach 8th grade math and a class of geometry to ...I teach 8th grade math and a class of geometry to advanced 8th graders in a Seattle school. For Math 8, I use CMP2, which is an inquiry-based curriculum that is indeed challenging for parents to help with and for some students to understand. For Geometry, I use "Discovering Geometry," which I find to be quite good. It is VERY different from CMP2. It includes clear examples that students can use at home if they have questions. It is true that there are some investigations to do in the classroom that lead students to figure out some of the conjectures for themselves, but the investigations are great! They make the class more interesting than if the teacher just lays out the conjecture, and once we have finished an investigation we take notes on the relevant material. Pure mathematical homework problems from the book and in-class practice cement understanding. <br />I absolutely understand where you are coming from, Cliff, in terms of curricula such as CMP2, CPM, and others, but I have to disagree about the Discovering Math series. My colleagues and I are finding it to be student-, parent-, and teacher-friendly, and the students are LEARNING.Unknownhttps://www.blogger.com/profile/09000732633694314089noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7478606652950905956.post-89094004390153886512010-03-10T16:27:35.378-08:002010-03-10T16:27:35.378-08:00Cliff, has it really changed? I took the equivalen...Cliff, has it really changed? I took the equivalent of Chem 142 back in 1971 and I remember the professor had to waste a couple of lectures explaining logarithms BEFORE he could explain pH. I also had "new math" in grade school. The small percentage of motivated students will still figure out how to get the knowledge. I understand your fight, but I think the trick is to maintain your standards and expectations, so that students know they need to study on their own.Stevehttps://www.blogger.com/profile/14818979024131339228noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7478606652950905956.post-28949637428382028352010-03-10T13:58:59.118-08:002010-03-10T13:58:59.118-08:00Thanks for the post, Cliff.
I have used Californi...Thanks for the post, Cliff. <br />I have used California's version of "discovery" math (CPM) as a student and have tutors students at all skill levels using CPM and can assert from experience that it is complete garbage. I was lucky my high school didn't have the money to buy new textbooks so they stuck with the traditional ones.<br /><br />- Bonnie B.Anonymoushttps://www.blogger.com/profile/17063140914060603040noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7478606652950905956.post-68323989981095979722010-03-10T11:58:12.563-08:002010-03-10T11:58:12.563-08:00No apologies necessary for this type of informatio...No apologies necessary for this type of information. I come to your blog for weather and math...<br /><br />I am fortunate to have kids who "get" math, even with the Discovery books. I do a lot of math with them on everyday subjects and require that they be able to solve questions on their own.<br /><br />As for why do school districts eat this stuff up? I think it was Cliff that proposed that most individuals who sit on school boards found math hard in school and blame the curriculum. They want a simple solution to a complex problem. Dumbing down the math program, to them is the way to go so everyone can "get" math.<br /><br />Not sure why society want things to be easy rather than correct.<br /><br /><i>"... not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win ..."</i><br /><br />-- John F. KennedyJordanPhttps://www.blogger.com/profile/03512504026479840683noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7478606652950905956.post-62495938075434653182010-03-10T11:46:37.252-08:002010-03-10T11:46:37.252-08:00Keep fighting on this! I am disappointed in Mary B...Keep fighting on this! I am disappointed in Mary Bass, who represents my district, for voting for the appeal.Unknownhttps://www.blogger.com/profile/07690662577050899836noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7478606652950905956.post-51757839726615412612010-03-10T11:03:31.354-08:002010-03-10T11:03:31.354-08:00It is truly scandalous that schools of education a...It is truly scandalous that schools of education and pedagogy aren't using any sort of epidemiological methods to test whether curricula are effective or not. Education is just as important as the safety of drugs and medical devices, but doesn't undergo any of the rigorous testing we require for medicine. Or really any other science.Andrewhttps://www.blogger.com/profile/16915461280629194265noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7478606652950905956.post-89066877085281989302010-03-10T10:46:47.312-08:002010-03-10T10:46:47.312-08:00Cliff, your energy in keeping after this matter is...Cliff, your energy in keeping after this matter is really admirable. Thank you.<br /><br />I agree with your position and share your concerns. My son, a B'vue District high school graduate, managed to get an engineering degree from UW and a graduate degree from Hopkins, but only with difficulty (and some tutoring from me). His HS math was not nearly so rigorous as mine a generation (well, more than a generation) ago. And I gather that most likely the situation has worsened since his time.<br /><br />But here's a practical question for you. I can't participate in the public discussions because I haven't read the books, and I'm certainly not about to buy them! Further, while I have a good deal of relevant experience, having taught math in the U. S. and overseas, at high school and college level, I don't have money to contribute--only time. <br /><br />If volunteers with time on their hands would be valuable to your campaign, the Where's The Math Web site doesn't make this very clear.<br /><br />Question: what can a poor person do to help?LVDLMhttps://www.blogger.com/profile/13673762291110613809noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7478606652950905956.post-24642071604519032092010-03-10T09:21:23.801-08:002010-03-10T09:21:23.801-08:00Ten years ago I was an Issaquah parent fighting th...Ten years ago I was an Issaquah parent fighting this same math curriculum battle on behalf of my then middle school and high school aged children. It's depressing that the same mistake keeps being made over and over again now. <br /><br />Our struggle back then emerged when we realized that DOZENS of Issaquah families were paying money for outside math tutoring every week because our kids weren't learning any math in school. Besides the troubling economics behind this situation -- only those who could afford it were "buying" proper college-prep math instruction privately -- was the reality that the successful tutoring was simply an opportunity for traditional math instruction, practice, and drilling for our kids. <br /><br />We don't expect musicians to be proficient at a difficult but valuable skill without drills --but somehow we expect children to...? That doesn't make any rational sense at all.<br /><br />My husband is a research engineer and he couldn't believe what was passing for math education for our kids. He sees firsthand every day the dearth of American college graduates with sufficient math/science education to succeed in his highly technical field. I am an academic myself and have been hearing from my science colleagues at the university for 20 years now that students CANNOT DO MATH WHEN THEY GET TO UNIVERSITY IN THIS STATE.<br /><br />Long story short -- the FEROCIOUS protection of this curriculum by Education administrators remains almost unfathomable, both then and now. It is my experience that these folks are so wedded to the ideology behind the program that they refuse to be rational about the evidence that it doesn't work. It just seems that it SHOULD work...because who wouldn't want to just think about, and write about, and "discover" their own math, right? Doesn't that sound nice? Oy vey....<br /><br />So keep up the good work, Cliff and the others who are working so hard on this problem.<br /><br />But, sadly, I do expect that until this current generation of academics in Education departments passes on into retirement you will still be fighting this crazy ideological battle for years to come.<br /><br />Thanks for letting me lend some historical perspective -- as well as to vent....;-)Chrishttps://www.blogger.com/profile/15733865151222899558noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7478606652950905956.post-46450942812474159922010-03-10T09:17:24.541-08:002010-03-10T09:17:24.541-08:00Cliff -- is this what the Seattle School district ...Cliff -- is this what the Seattle School district is currently using? I tutor in middle and high schools, and I can tell you that the middle school textbooks are horrible! The kids are so lost, and they have no idea why they are doing what they are doing.Annahttps://www.blogger.com/profile/13324546731131437325noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7478606652950905956.post-3127325804079966752010-03-10T07:27:56.075-08:002010-03-10T07:27:56.075-08:00Cliff, thanks for the expose. I forwarded your sit...Cliff, thanks for the expose. I forwarded your site to several folks in Seattle and a super math teach on Bainbridge where my family lives. Don't know the math instruction method used there but will find out today. MarcUnknownhttps://www.blogger.com/profile/15333350434794574952noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7478606652950905956.post-81153522891097448112010-03-10T06:46:14.852-08:002010-03-10T06:46:14.852-08:00Cliff,
Do you know anything about new math books ...Cliff,<br /><br />Do you know anything about new math books from Pearson that the Northshore SD is using? It would be great.<br /><br />Thanks!Anonymousnoreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7478606652950905956.post-4660912505925470172010-03-10T02:33:24.364-08:002010-03-10T02:33:24.364-08:00Cliff, I'm a writer for the Seattle P-I Bellev...Cliff, I'm a writer for the Seattle P-I Bellevue City News blog. I'm probably going to write about this issue this week (Thursday). Is it OK to quote you?<br /><br />ThanksJewelyaZhttps://www.blogger.com/profile/09434569437851248356noreply@blogger.comtag:blogger.com,1999:blog-7478606652950905956.post-33418670575913533802010-03-09T23:23:07.817-08:002010-03-09T23:23:07.817-08:00I support solid math education and believe that st...I support solid math education and believe that students will rise to whatever heights (or lack thereof) that their parents and teachers expect of them.<br /><br />What I don't understand is why so many teachers and school board members are pushing so hard for the Discovering Math curriculum. If it doesn't perform as well in real-world application, what's the appeal?<br /><br />I would love to hear your perspective on this, Cliff, as it sounds like there is something weird going on. Is it marketing, or a financial conflict of interest, or just some educational fad?Kerryhttps://www.blogger.com/profile/06432437200531814106noreply@blogger.com