This morning’s Washington Post has a story that says Maryland math teachers are gathering today to consider a another new way to teach math to students. It’s called Curriculum Focal Points and it’s being pushed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
The Post story says of the Curriculum Focal Points report:
“The report urges teachers to focus on three broad concepts in each grade and on a few key subjects — including the base-10 number system, fractions, decimals, geometry and algebra — that form the core of math education in higher-achieving nations. Some are calling Focal Points the most significant publication in the field since the 1980s.”
I thought the Everyday Math program that my son is learning at Forest Lakes Elementary School was the new math. As a matter of fact, this program from the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project was just adopted county wide in the Harford County Public Schools this year. We parents are just grappling with how to get used to this program that uses a method of “spiralling” where students first get introduced to new math topics and then get more intimately involved as they run into them again later. (Here’s a link to my son’s school’s math website) Now I learn that even the state math leaders already suspect this might not be the way to go. I thought my third-grader was a bit lucky to have been in a class that actually started with the Everyday Math program in first grade. I figured he would have the benefit of not having to switch methods in mid-stream. But with today’s math teachers summit it looks like that might not be the case. The story says Maryland’s math curriculum is up for revision in 2009 — the year my daughter will start first grade. The Washington Post story says that American students fall far behind Singapore and Japan and a dozen other nations in math. Perhaps we should simply invite some of their teachers over here to tackle the job — or at least to give us some tips.