USA Today had an article entitled, “Why Kids Hate Math?” A friend of TAE, Niki Hayes, responded saying the column’s author, Patrick Welsh who teaches at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, VA, missed the larger point of why kids struggle in math:
The huge elephant in the room with failing math students is the incoherent curriculum that has been produced since the advent of the 1989 National Council of Teachers of Mathematics’ Curriculum and Standards document. They created “reform” procedures and purposes of math education; this created a debacle in elementary grades as states jumped on board because of the NCTM’s goal of bringing equity to girls and minorities. The states also got big grants from the National Science Foundation and U.S. Department of Education to switch to the new “new” math. About $84 million was pumped into the “new” reform curricula during the 1990’s, even though it had not been proven as reliable or valid in its approaches–no memorization of multiplication facts, early use of calculators, and a focus on “fun” with contrived projects and manipulative usage told in story form (preferred, they said, by girls and minorities). The NCTM president in 1996 stated on a radio show that girls and minorities couldn’t learn the linear structure of math that is preferred by white males (and Asians). He evidently never was told that the 2,000-year-old discipline was created by diverse cultures from around the world. Frankly, I call the reform math racist and sexist. We see the results on all groups of kids now.
BTW, in Texas, an elementary teacher can be certified with as few as 3 semester hours of math. Give them weak and incoherent teaching materials and the recipe is, indeed, disastrous for the students and our country.