We, educators, are literally bombarded with data on math achievement and the push to do better and do more with our students. We need to compete. We need to reach higher. Our students just don’t match up with the rest of the world’s industrialized countries. And then there are self-deprecating comments repeated over and over, “We are just not as good as other countries in math. We don’t work as hard.”…
Every year is the same story. But the truth is, we do work hard and we are smart. The current curriculum of “learning discovery” where students explicitly learn “mental math” and are presented with numerous concepts at the same time, doesn’t allow for sufficient time for deep learning and practice of any one concept.
The latest fad is a math tutoring program called Jump Math. While Jump Math’s theory is great, focusing on cognitive science, limits of working memory and importance of extensive practice, their actual practice is much different since it directly aligns with the “discovery math” method of the currently used math curriculum. Unlike Singapore Math, which focuses on the math fundamentals and problem solving, the Jump Math is simply a supplement to the already ineffective math curriculum, such as Everyday Mathematics and Math Makes Sense.
In the end, teachers are left with constantly having to decipher the sales pitch of curriculum and tutoring supplements. Unless we teach our students the ground rules of mathematics, doing more worksheets from the failing curriculum is pointless. And please don’t think that Canadians and English are better than us at math. The use the same curriculum that is created by Pearson Inc., and their classrooms struggle with the same challenges.
Additional Reading: Singapore Math Adopted in More U.S. Schools http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/01/education/01math.html