A calling ...

"We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims."

"Make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone."

- Buckminster Fuller

Thursday, December 30, 2010

My Response to Jay Mathews Blog

Class Struggle - Are math scores lagging because U.S. parents are clueless?

According to the Pareto Principle, 80% of production comes from 20% of the inputs. Following Pareto's logic, educational leaders should consider examining the number of standards in the curriculum and take a serious look at which are "the vital few" that generate the results that we are looking for, i.e., being competitive as a nation in Mathematics.
Recently, I read the statement in a brain-based education book that concluded, "too fast doesn't last". In another book called This Is Your Brain On Music, the author noted that it takes a minimum of 10,000 hours to become world class in any discipline. I find it amusing that someone would say that it's criminal that 4th graders don't know addition facts; a substantial number of 7th graders don't know their multiplication facts. Try adding fractions with unlike denominators without automatic recall of multiplication facts! Students who have automatic math fact recall tend to have lots and lots of connections. Students who have lots and lots of connections have a far easier time recalling facts. Students who have lots and lots of connections, as a rule, have had rich and varied experiences with numbers. Sadly, a lot of math students don't get a lot of rich and varied experiences with numbers. Too often, the joy of understanding is beaten out of children by teachers who are forced to stick to mandatory pacing guides. Too often, Math teachers are in too big of a hurry to teach in developmentally appropriate ways..
Mandatory pacing guides don't take into consideration the developmental stages and base number sense of a highly diverse population, which leads to educational mis-matches, particularly at the bottom and top portions of the bell curve. It's painful as a teacher to have to force children to learn math procedures when the children aren't ready. A greater emphasis on differentiated instruction nationally would probably require a greater focus on the "vital few" that generate the greatest results. Eliminating clutter would involve important choices about which are the "vital few".