No! Not SMSG again!
Couple days ago I noted
a remarkably positive development in math and science education right here in River City.
Now it appears that the broader
trend is going backwards, returning to the idiotic academic shitstorm of the School [or Stanford] Math Study Group.NPR reports:
Computers do arithmetic for us, Devlin says, but making computers do the things we want them to do requires algebraic thinking. ...
"You cannot become good at algebra without a mastery of arithmetic," Devlin says, "but arithmetic itself is no longer the ultimate goal." Thus the emphasis in teaching mathematics today is on getting people to be sophisticated, algebraic thinkers.
That doesn't mean that kids can skip learning their multiplications tables. "But the way it's taught now is you get to the multiplication tables by understanding the number system and understanding what numbers mean," Devlin says.
Some of this sounds good. De-emphasizing the rote parts of arithmetic is good. Problem-solving never required that type of thinking, and now that calculators are free there's no reason to put a lot of effort into times tables. Much better to motivate the students, place them in situations where they have to solve a problem with math, and then let them 'discover' the needed methods in the context of the real problem.
But this doesn't sound like an emphasis on problem-solving. It sounds like a return to the idiotic academic definition of "elementary".
"Understanding the number system and understanding what numbers mean" sounds an awful lot like Set Theory and Number Theory. Those are called Elementary and Foundational by academics for arcane reasons, but they are NOT the way to start learning math and they are NOT the foundation of math understanding. If you start from these ideas you won't get anywhere.
I need to look up more about this trend, find out if it's really as awful as it sounds.