Fads in teaching math harm students

Students in this country continue to post scores on tests of international competition in math far below those by Asian countries.  Could that be because of pedagogical fads in teaching math (“California Tries to Close the Gap in Math, but Sets Off a Backlash,” The New York Times, Nov. 4)?

Few subjects have undergone such swings.  The “new math” of the 1960s was sold as more conceptual, but it failed to move the needle on test scores.  Then there was collaborative problem solving, which also failed to do much.

It would be interesting to see what would happen if teachers here adopted the approach taken by their Asian colleagues in teaching math.  I’ll bet that scores would improve.

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