A recent article in MacLean’s Magazine (the Canuck equivalent of Time or The Economist) questions math curriculum reform. The gist of the article is that the math curriculum reform has created a confusing and over-complicated curriculum where neither teachers nor parents can keep up. A concerned coalition of parents and professionals, called the Western Initiative for Strengthening Education in Math (WISE), is pushing for reform that would return to teaching fundamentals and standard algorithms.
I have mixed feelings myself, and the article is obviously full of hyperbole. They mention an engineer who spends 2 hours every night re-learning his children’s math so he could help them with it, which is something I find hard to believe. However, there’s something to be said for simplicity. If teachers are not so comfortable with math themselves, and try teaching non-standard algorithms as rigidly as they teach standard algorithms, I could see that causing a lot of the confusion and creating more problems than it solves. I also believe discipline and practice is something that we underrate in our math education.