I could have titled this a lot of different things, but that's succinct and polite. Two personal goals, met!
By Reform Math I refer specifically to the idea of math instruction that came from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics in 1989. These standards were revised in 2000. The emphasis in this new mathematical conceptual thinking and problem solving instead of the arithmetic most of us were taught in schools with algorithms for problem solving and an emphasis on memorization and solid knowledge of math facts.
Now, this doesn't sound bad yet. Conceptual thinking? Problem solving? Who doesn't want their child to think beyond just 1+1 and into the concept? Problem solving is important in all subjects! America has lagged behind other nations for a while mathematically- so maybe this is what we need! The idea of moving students past the need to always solve problems in one, regimented way sounds like a decent plan of attack on moving scores and comprehension forward.
So what's my problem? Other then being a subversive homeschooler? First- watch this.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tr1qee-bTZI It's a little long, but it works through actual examples from teacher's manuals from two of the most popular reform math programs being used by schools- Everyday Mathematics and Investigations in Numbers, Data, and Space or TERC Investigations.
Personally, I am strongly opposed to the early and frequent use of calculators in the early years of arithmetic. I am in favor of drilling until math facts are solid. I also find the new ways of solving multiplication and division featured to be cumbersome, confusing, and something that I don't care to teach my children.
I know that there are some strong proponents of the new math, and that these programs have fans who have achieved a personal level of education in the fields of education and mathematics far exceeding any claims of my own. I'm not here to besmirch the people involved in the creation of these ideas or programs- just to say that for me and my family, and a lot of other people that I've talked to about this, it's not a good fit.
I'm also interested in the long term track record of these ideas- how will kids stack up once they reach university level? How will they be in the job market, the workplace, at home with their finances?
Anyone else with any opinions about reformed math?