Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Make way for "Radical Math"

Just when you were shaking your head in disbelief at just how far the pendulum has swung when it comes to math education, and you were convinced that things just couldn't get any crazier, along comes Radical Math. So, move over Everyday Math, Investigations (TERC) and Connected Math Program, make room for yet another "reform math" curricula.

Jonathon Osler, the founder of and author of "A Guide for Integrating Issues of Social, Political, and Economic Justice into Mathematics Curriculum," refers to this reform math curricula as "Social Justice Math".

So much for math as a pure and apolitical discipline.

You've got to see it to believe it.

Here is a sample lesson on fractions.

Another in algebra.

Yet another about probability.

There are many more lesson plans available at the website and while some of them are quite interesting, many really push the envelope of what we can consider to be math education. This reform math is about so much more than "math reform".

Watch this news story about Radical Math that aired June 21, 2007 on
FOX News (video here)

or just take a look at the FOX News Transcript that follows:

DAVID MILLER, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: These kids are learning high school math the old-fashioned way. But a number of public school teachers across the country are trying something new that critics say it adds up to trouble. It's called "Radical math." The teaching technique combines mathematics with social, political, and economic issues. Sample lessons posted on a Radical Math Website for teachers suggests the following assignments: Calculating the average number of casualties in Iraq, computing baseball stats to determine if all star voting is tainted by racism, and exploring how much tax money is spent on government agencies, including 30 percent for the military. Seattle high school teacher Larry Steele says "Radical Math" is an effective way to teach kids not only arithmetic but also how to make important decisions in their lives.

LARRY STEELE, HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER: We look at both sides. I mean, how do you feel about wearing shoes that were probably made by a person who makes a dollar a day? Do you feel OK about that?

MILLER: Critics of "Radical math" say the program unfairly imposes left-wing values on students.

SOL STERN, MANHATTAN INSTITUTE: A social justice agenda, meaning a conclusion that America is a racist country, America is an exploitative country, America is an imperialist country, and that our capitalist system is per se unjust.

MILLER: Well it is difficult to gauge just how much teachers across the country use "Radical math," it is especially popular in New York City. Recently more than 400 educators met here for a conference on teaching math and social justice. City education officials even gave one of the organizers a $3,000 grant. But one question students probably will not be quizzed anytime soon is if that money could have been better spent.

In New York, David Lee Miller, FOX News.

Kind of makes Everyday Math et al. look like a cake walk, doesn't it?

Hat Tip: Scholar's Notebook

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