Sunday, 13 December 2015

Maths reform strikes back. (UKPSF V4 K3 V3 V4)

I don't normally watch daytime TV. However, two weeks ago,  I was watching some magazine program. One of the stories involved some American professor (Jo Boaler),  who was writing press releases to stop  children being tested on the basic times table. The presenters seemed to think that children should memorize the times table, but they were not sure why.

I have started reading the book  by Jo Boaler, called 

Mathematical Mindsets: Unleashing Students' Potential through Creative Math, Inspiring Messages and Innovative Teaching.

I have only read the first chapter, but she is advocating "project based" learning. She was also complaining about the state of maths education in California. However, that was the state where there had been a big reform movement of mathematics teaching. There is a history of attempts to reform mathematics written from the perspective a Professor who was against the type of reforms. The issue is whether students are ready for problem solving, if they don't have the  background in basic mathematical techniques, such as algebra. The reform movement was stopped in California, and teachers started back on traditional methods.

Given the large consequences of any proposed reforms, I think it is useful to study previous attempts to reform education,  to see what went wrong. It will be interesting to see whether Prof. Jo Boaler mentions the history of mathematics reform in California.