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

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Myth 1: Discovery Learning 

Only what students discover for themselves is truly learned.

OK, here's another problem with the Mathematically Correct people. They seem to set up straw men to attack. I don't claim to be intimately acquainted with everything in the NCTM Standards, but given that my MST was highly influenced by NCTM perspectives, particularly in the math ed classes, I've got a pretty good sense of what's emphasized. And frankly discovery learning was not that central a focus of what we did. I had one course in number theory where we used Holt and Jones Discovering Number Theory as the text and it was set up on a discovery learning structure (as dictated by the book) and we found (through discovery!) that a pure discovery approach doesn't work. If you peek at the NCTM reply in Jay Mathew's article, you'll see that the NCTM doesn't argue this either.

That said, there's a lot to be said for using discovery learning as part of the educational process. Pretty much what the MC people say, and not surprisingly what the NCTM says as well.

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