Vito Prosciutto: Teaching community college math on the road to a PhD.

Friday, February 06, 2004

An interesting account of math ed reform 

A schoolyard blog has a good account of "Ted", a teacher who was fired from his math teaching job after implementing the NCTM standards. Shortly after the firing, he was named Colorado High School Mathematics Teacher of the year. It's a very long post, but one thing stood out for me about giving students verification that their work was correct:
I stopped certifying student responses as correct. I insisted that the students verify the validity of their responses. Nobody told Newton or Euler when they were “right or wrong”. They were their own highest authority. Why should I expect less from my students? Having Mr. D say, “Yes, that is correct.” Is warm and fuzzy. It also ultimately destroys the critical thinking edge of my students.

There is a story of the new recruit at an engineering company, fresh out of college, who was given a circuit to analyze on his first day on the job. He worked on it for most of the day and then brought his solution to the manager who had assigned the task that morning. The recruit placed his solution on the desk and waited eagerly for a response. The manager looked at the paper and then filed it. The recruit lingered for awhile and then said, “Well was I right?”

The manager was shocked. He asked, “Why would I pay you to find answers that I already know?”

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