Thursday, 4 June 2015

Rate your prof(ession)

Imagine that you are the newly appointed minister of education. You are deciding who should have input into the K-9 math curriculum.  There are many groups that want to have a say. Here’s your chance to rate three of them according to how you value their opinions on a scale from 1 (barely worthwhile) to 5 (absolutely necessary). 

Fill in the appropriate  circle.

From all that I have read, one thing is evident: people from the different groups think that their own views are paramount, and they have little regard for each other. It makes it difficult to have a conversation. 

Are you a teacher? Do you believe that math profs and ed profs have not spent enough time in the classroom and do not come close to grasping the complexity of the K-9 environment?

Are you an ed prof? Do you believe that math profs and teachers are largely ignorant about how people learn mathematics?

Are you a math prof? Do you believe that teachers do not know enough mathematics? Do you think that much of what ed profs say is faddish and based on dodgy research?

If you belong to one of the three groups, do you believe that it is possible to even discuss math education with the other groups, or are the differences so great that they cannot be overcome? 

There was an insightful statement by Andrew Coyne in the June 4 edition of the Edmonton Journal.

To construct a theory of the unbridgeable difference between two groups, after all, you have to have in mind a stereotype of each, to be compared and contrasted.

Coyne was talking about Jacques Parizeau and the politics of separatism, but I think the statement is apropos regarding math education.

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