Sidwell Friends




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The speakers:


The program:


There were about 50 people there, mostly math teachers from Sidwell (and their administrators) and area schools.  We were assigned our program topics, but with a little manipulation of the introduction, I would have given the same speech.  I had 5 minutes.


I'm afraid there was a bit of a shocked silence after I read my bit.  My subject matter partner was one of the authors of PSSM 2000, and it came out, to the amusement of all, during the Q & A, that he had talked his kid's school into using TERC Investigations. His talk was interesting. He explained that the 1989 standards were misunderstood, "content" was just assumed to be there, they were trying to introduce understanding. Now the 2000 standards are misunderstood because some pick understanding and some pick content. In my opinion, this is pretty silly, since these are precisely the problems with so-called "traditional" math.


The questions at the end were written and screened, but two made it through directly to me.  One was something about me having supported rote learning or some such, but even other panel members said they hadn't heard me say that.  I just responded that it was a myth that mathematicians, scientists, and engineers didn't want their students to understand their math.


The second question was a statement about how I didn't understand Sidwell's lower school math program, that TERC Investigations is supplemented.  I just suggested that if they want to supplement they should start with a good program.  It came out later that they supplement with Everyday Math so they get a "balanced" math program.


It came out that the math teachers at Sidwell are all now sitting down to talk about coordinating the program.  Their middle school starts in 5th grade and their lower school is trying to get the middle school to use TERC Investigations for the 5th grade. 


I got the general impression that the high school teachers were not unhappy with my talk, but the lower school principal (not a math guy) was more than a little defensive.  He did ask me if TERC Investigations had any redeeming value.  I used to answer that question with a yes, but I have all of the materials, K-5, for the new version of TERC Investigations, and, perhaps it is too strong to say it has no redeeming value, any possible redeeming value is more than compensated for by the very strong negatives.  I said it had no redeeming value.


I suspect that my talk will have no impact whatsoever.