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What do you think of this? (algebra article)


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I saw this article in the New York Times:




These are two of the parts that really piqued my curiosity:

"Westport’s curriculum overhaul joins other recent critiques of mile-wide, inch-deep instruction in the long-running math wars within American education."

“Schools in Singapore and India spend more time on each topic, and their kids do better. We’re boiling down math to the essentials.â€


I've heard before of the criticism of American math being too broad and not deep enough, but I always thought that was at the K-8 math level. Does anyone know if Singapore math (NEM in particular) covers less topics than American algebra?


I have to say, I think that adding online videos and problems is a great idea to supplement. I think eliminating the textbooks altogether is a very bad idea, but maybe I'm old-fashioned.



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Wow, Math is my scariest subjects, because I want to make sure that she has a great base for "Higher Math." I've spent a lot of time looking at different math programs...and basically just feel stumped. I know that my math teachers in high-school and college weren't that great. Everything else I feel fine about...Math just isn't there. I know that my husband can step in if necessary...but the curriculum is what stumps me. I've had him look at some...but....The perfect math curriculum would be SO nice:-)


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I agree with the "mile wide and an inch deep" theory, and I think that computer based learning is an excellent option for math in general.


Math, particularly higher math, lends itself to very well to the graphics and quick results possible with a computer. The ability to rewatch lessons is a huge bonus, and programs that track results and give review problems based on performance are fabulous.


Even when students are brave enough to say that they don't understand the lesson, teachers often don't have time to reteach it or to fully address their questions. And it takes a brave student indeed to say, I still don't understand, after getting additional explanation!


My personal experience has always been that even the accomodating teachers quickly lose patience when students still don't get it after the 2nd or 3rd explanation. And many teachers lack multiple ways to explain a topic; they simply explain it the same way, just a bit more slowly and with slightly different words ;).


When you are working on the computer, no one knows how many times you had to watch the lesson, or how much extra time you had to spend on a certain concept. It's very liberating, I think, and students are much more likely to persist until they gain a more complete undertanding of the concept.


I haven't done a head to head comparison of 'typical' US books vs Singapore at the high school level, but why would publishers suddenly switch gears and embrace 'not many, but much?' This laundry list of topics is my main issue with Saxon, but I don't have the math mojo to attempt Singapore past level 6.

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I'll be the dissenter with computer math. Evidence indicates that people retain what they read on the printed page better than what they read on the screen. I dont have the sources, but it was referenced in Jim Trelease's book about reading you your children.


I do think that a mile wide and an inch deep is a very bad way to do Algebra. I think that a lot more theory (the why's) and thinking needs to be incorporated into all of math, especially Algebra on up. However, there are some great old programs right in the US that could do that--like reprinting an older Dolciani text (perhaps with some updated examples, but using the same good math and language). Gelfand's Algebra is a great program, but, honestly, would be too hard for many who are not mathy. Some of those problems are challenging even for some of the math MAs on this forum (I'm thinking of one in particular that dd had trouble with). Apparently the older Dolciani pre-Algebra was done over 2 years, which would give dc a good grounding in it (probably gr 7 & 8).


What's interesting is my dd's Russian Math book for 6th grade. There are only 6 chapters in the entire book, but over 1000 problems. This isn't Algebra, but it's very interesting to see how they group things. It's different than SM or any other book I've looked at so far.

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