Fuzzy Rainforest Math is Out: Back to the Basics
1. Teaching Math in 1960: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit?
2. Teaching Math in 1970: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?
3. Teaching Math in 1980: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80. Did he make a profit?
4. Teaching Math in 1990: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.
5. Teaching Math in 2000: There are 5 baby birds in a nest. Three of the birds fly away. Question: how do the other two birds feel? (There are no wrong answers)
6. Teaching Math in 2005: A greedy, profit-seeking logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands. He does this so he can make a profit of $20. Topics for class or small group discussion: What do you think of this way of making a living? How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down their homes? (There are no wrong answers)
From the WSJ's article (subscription required) "New Report Urges Return to Basics In Teaching Math: Critics of 'Fuzzy' Methods Cheer Educators' Findings" (9/12/2006):
It took parents 17 years to overturn the tragic 1989 curriculum mistake made by the so-called education experts who demanded that schools abandon traditional mathematics in favor of unproven approaches. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics finally reversed course and admitted that elementary schools really should teach arithmetic, after all.
Now the nation's math teachers are getting some new marching orders: Make sure students learn the basics.
The council's advice is striking because in 1989 it touched off the so-called math wars by promoting open-ended problem solving over drilling. Back then, it recommended that students as young as those in kindergarten use calculators in class.
Those recommendations horrified many educators, especially college math professors alarmed by a rising tide of freshmen needing remediation. The council's 1989 report influenced textbooks and led to what are commonly called "reform math" programs, which are used in school systems across the country.
HT: J. Howe