An island of rationality in the insanity of math wars

That is the description of a new blog called Rational Mathematics Education, by Michael Paul Goldenberg.

I mention it for the sake of those of you who are interested in the trends in mathematics education, and the "math wards" between the traditional and the reform.
"The 'Net is flooded with videos, blogs, and what I view as hate lists and web sites all attacking progressive reform methods, tools, technologies, pedagogies and, most especially, text books in mathematics (although the onslaught against progressive science education is on its way, and the current focus on mathematics education reform was preceded by the still on-going war against "whole language" and related ideas in literacy education.

This blog has been created to provide direct replies to entries on other blogs where the blogger invites feedback but refuses to post negative responses, critical comments, uncomfortable questions, etc., of ANY kind, regardless of how polite they may be. What do such people fear, I wonder?"

As for me, I'm just real real busy trying to finish up the Math Mammoth complete curriculum for 3rd grade, and get that to the folks at Winterpromise. So that's why there has been sort of a break in blogging. I'll try to do better after that's all done.


Unknown said…
Thanks for posting that information, Maria.
Anonymous said…
From what I have read, Mr. Goldenberg is very outspoken in his support for "reformed", "progressive", or "New-New" math. He is in favor of the Everyday Mathematics curriculum that is currently being used in some public schools.

I would think this viewpoint would be in direct contradiction to what teaches. I remember reading an article on your site entitled, "Is your math curriculum coherent?", (or something to that effect).

From what I have read EM is not coherent. Some say this is because teachers don't know how to teach it. Some say it's because it completely ignores teaching traditional algorithms. Some say it's because few students can grasp concepts as quickly as the curriculum moves. Still others say it's because the new algorithms are time-consuming with many steps and this leaves more chances for errors to be made.

As for my own opinion on this subject, I see nothing wrong with teaching other ways to solve a problem. (The "lattice" method of multiplication is actually kind of fun.) However, I also think it would be beneficial to drill students on math facts, and teach the traditional algorithms. I also do not like the thought of elementary kids using calculators.

I am planning on using a "mastery" type math program this coming fall with my kids. Since reading a review of Singapore Math on the WTM web site, I would like to combine the two. Why can't regular schools do the same?

Here's the link:

Here's a link to an article from last year entitled, "How to end the Math Wars".,9171,1561144,00.html
Maria Miller said…
I was just providing a link to it for my blog readers who might be interested in knowing about it. Just something interesting. I don't think I personally want to take part in any of this "war".
Anonymous said…
"I don't think I personally want to take part in any of this "war"."


I didn't think you were trying to lob a bombshell on anyone. I was just surprised. It is interesting, though, and even funny, to read how worked up people get over this. It's almost like a cult. (I'm referring to both extremes.)

The ongoing "math war" seems to have very little to do with anyone (on either extreme) caring how well students are educated and has everything to do with people with an agenda jockeying for political and social power.

It truly is insanity, but there are precious few web sites on the subject that are truly neutral. Well, actually, I haven't found one that is.
Anonymous said…
Thanks for the link. After a good hours read I decided the war was sophomoric fun, like arguing over free will. The problem lies not with curricula but with school design. Teachers are given a "box" and have to cut, trim, let out, mend and otherwise tailor the "box" to the learners. I have always found that to be the advantage of teaching individual children. I can choose which "box" would suit them.
You might find kitchen table math, the sequel quite interesting. It's certainly much more rational than anything you'll ever read on Mr. Goldenberg's blog.
Anonymous said…
The math wars are certainly NOT fun. They're a serious matter that have to do with failing kids and falling test scores.

If offends my sensibilities to hear of it spoken otherwise. No one wants to be in these wars, but somebody must speak for the children.

Here's how serious it is: Article and video on CBN just yesterday

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