State’s math teachers: Traditional math doesn’t cut it today

Several of you contend that the Mathematics Curriculum Team at the University of Georgia and the Georgia Council of Supervisors of Mathematics don’t really know what it takes to teach math so their endorsement of integrated math –  found on the blog today — should not be taken seriously. (Both groups do include people who teach math for a living.)

Now, here comes the Georgia Council of Teachers of Mathematics, which calls the integrated math approach  “the most effective for the 21st century Georgia workforce.”

The council represents 3,000 math teachers. The council did not poll all its members, but its leadership strongly supports the integrated curriculum and many of of them were involved in its development.

I understand the criticisms of the state’s integrated math, but I think it is foolish to overlook the people in the field who support it. I attended one of the workshops held to develop the new standards back in the Cox era and it was full of math teachers from around the state. Teachers who do this everyday helped to create this curriculum. You can hate the outcome of their efforts, but you can’t maintain that no practitioners were involved.

I also want to address the comments about Georgia Tech professors needing to speak out. When the backlash against the new math began, I chatted with several of them who were baffled by the public commotion. They felt integrated math was not a revolution or fad but a different, more coherent packaging of the same material. They didn’t understand what people found so startling since they felt that it made perfect sense to integrate math principals since that’s how people use them.

That said, I did just get an e-mail from a math professor who raised some concerns. The professor wrote: “I have had  no serious issues with the content of  the math courses and I don’t  have strong feelings about how course material is packaged.”

However, he faulted implementation, saying that there were no textbooks available at the roll out of the new curriculum. While there are textbooks now, he said they’re inadequate so teachers scramble for worksheets. Under the new math requirements, Georgia now expects all high school students to complete the equivalent of Algebra 2 to  graduate, which seems unrealistic against the goal of improving the 35 percent drop-out rate, he says. He wonders about the purpose since he rarely uses algebra and trig outside his work.

Anywhere, here is the statement from the math teachers group:

The Executive Committee of the Georgia Council of Teachers of Mathematics enthusiastically supports Georgia’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards.

According to the DOE there is a 90% correlation between the present Georgia Performance Standards (GPS) and the CCSS, which shows Georgia was one of the states leading the way towards higher expectations in mathematics for all students.  Our standards were developed within the GaDOE with input from a wide variety of stakeholders whose expertise ran from research in mathematics education to curriculum planning and implementation to classroom teaching.

It seems clear that our Georgia expertise is exceptional and has shown exemplary foresight into what mathematics students of the 21st century need to know and understand. As leaders who have been deeply involved in the reform effort of Georgia’s mathematics curriculum and as the representatives of more than 3,000 mathematics teachers, approximately 75% of whom are secondary mathematics teachers, we would like to also express our concern regarding recent developments in mathematics curriculum and instruction. The integrated approach to delivering the curriculum is the most effective for the 21st century Georgia workforce.  The Partnership for 21st Century Skills supports 21st century readiness for all students.

Their description of an effective learning environment strongly supports the instruction environment centered around an authentic integrated curriculum that promotes higher order thinking skills.

For example, their website states that the 21st century learning environment should: Enable students to learn in relevant, real world 21st century contexts (e.g., through project -based or other applied work) Allow equitable access to quality learning tools, technologies and resources; Provide 21st century architectural and interior designs for group, team and individual learning. This and other research clearly support an integrated rather than a traditional model for teaching critical thinking involving mathematical concepts.

During these difficult economic times we must be good stewards of our mathematics education dollars.  Two different methods of delivery will be very costly since texts, materials, state assessments, professional development, scheduling of classes and many other practical issues would cost taxpayers much more. Instead, our mathematics education dollars can be spent most wisely by fully supporting the delivery model that research supports, the integrated model.

We can do as a state what we have always done, but we as mathematics educators want to see Georgia’s mathematics students have the best possible opportunities to be prepared for the future.  The traditional model may have been appropriate for previous generations but will no longer prepare our students for an ever-changing technological society.

Our students deserve better than that. Just like stronger rope is made by twisting together many strands of thread, the power and beauty of mathematics is better realized when all the NCTM strands are woven together to form a deeper and more complete picture of mathematics.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

61 comments Add your comment

Write Your Board Members

February 22nd, 2011
8:20 pm

Implementation was/is a nightmare and the state (Kathy Cox) is at fault. To impose such radical changes without having the financial resources to implement it correctly is criminal. She knew she was likely to lose the election so she bolted, leaving GA with a huge mess.

Train the trainer was a joke and a failure and should never have been tried with something as important as math.

In addition, there was never a plan from the state to deal with the 1000s (now reduced by the economic woes) of students whose families relocate to GA from states that don’t have integrated math.

Mike Honcho

February 22nd, 2011
8:31 pm

I would like to see the state survey current secondary math teachers for real opinions on this topic.

Mike Honcho

February 22nd, 2011
8:33 pm

Survey all current secondary math teachers.


February 22nd, 2011
8:35 pm

They don’t really have textbooks at the APS high schools. Oh, they finally got them the end of last year, but the teachers aren’t using them since they haven’t had time to ‘align’ the textbook to the curriculum.
Right – the state came out with a curriculum, but left each school system to blow in the wind with finding a textbook. The textbooks don’t really exist, so APS went out and bought one that really has nothing to do with the curriculum.
Okay, so, apparently the teachers don’t even know half of the curriculum that is available to them on line (that APS is paying millions for). And the half that do know do a very lousy job communicating that to the students and parents.
So they have on line tools they don’t really use, and textbooks they can’t really use til someone (oh, by the way, that is some volunteers nearby) ‘aligns’ the textbook to the curriculum.

Um, no wonder our state is in the state it’s in with regards to education. This is just what I know about the math stuff…

Need to Get Real

February 22nd, 2011
8:38 pm

Anyone who has a kid in high school knows that this is a mess. Not only do the teachers not know how to effectively teach this way, they aren’t prepared to help kids who aren’t getting it. And, I must agree that the worksheets are flowing freely! I hate them and my kids hate them. It’s been hard enough to help my kids with subjects I studied 30+ years ago…especially math. Sorry to let math teachers in on this, but most of us don’t use 1/10th of the math we learned. Now I don’t even recognize what my kids are doing in math. Not only does it not look like something I studied in k-12, college or grad school, it doesn’t look like anything I use in my professional career. Why don’t “experts” realize that collaboration doesn’t mean to get different people who all think the same way to develop something. It means to get lots of diverse people together to develop something new, useful and…dare I say…innovative!

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February 22nd, 2011
8:50 pm

It probably wouldn’t matter one way or another if the students who scored “proficient” on the 8th grade math CRCT really were working at an 8th grade level in math. Problem is, they aren’t. Some of them aren’t even close.

Then you get those who failed the math CRCT and got promoted anyway. Some of them can’t even do 3rd grade math without a calculator. And we want them to learn Algebra? Lots of luck.


February 22nd, 2011
8:52 pm

@need to get real: seriously. The reality is that different people learn math differently. One way is not better than the other, but *shocker* we’re all different. So there should actually be several different math curriculums…
The integrated math may work for some, but the ‘old’ math probably works for others.
It might be a pain, but, um, at least the students will graduate with some math skills.
How do kids learn in private schools? No one much talks about that, but I don’t see many private school parents complaining about their kids’ educations (or do they just keep quiet?) – if they are effective, why doesn’t the public schools adopt *their* way?

And the math mess...

February 22nd, 2011
8:52 pm

…starts in elementary school, with the most ridiculous pacing chart I have ever seen. Not developmentally appropriate at all.


February 22nd, 2011
8:55 pm

Traditional math doesn’t work? I didn’t realize that mathematics had changed so drastically in the last 20 years …


February 22nd, 2011
9:23 pm

As a high school mathematics teacher, I have to speak up. I have been reading these blogs throughout the discussions of the math curriculum and am astounded by the uninformed comments. The purpose of mathematics education is not just the content. The purpose of mathematics education is to teach students how to think critically. “Open your book to page 27 and do problems #1-40 all” just doesn’t cut it any more. We are in an age of technology and innovation. Students need to be able to solve problems, not just go through the steps we list to solve a problem. This is what GPS has given us – an opportunity to teach our students how to think. The new standards – whether integrated or separated into “traditional” classes – should continue to be taught in a way that challenges students. My classroom does not look like the classroom you and I attended in high school. But, the “real world” no longer looks like the world those classes were preparing us for! To those of you that are so against the curriculum – I challenge you to visit a high school classroom and see for yourself the passion and understanding that is coming from both the teacher and the students. Students can speak the language of mathematics now; they can recognize and apply patterns in ways that students in the QCC curriculum could never dream of. And, I’m not talking about just the accelerated classes. I’m excited and rejuvenated on a daily basis by the mathematics that my students know. I’m sorry that this new curriculum scares you as parents and stakeholders, but please trust us – these students will be more prepared to work in a world that we don’t even know or understand just yet.

Look Deeper...

February 22nd, 2011
9:35 pm

“Experts” decided that teaching the building blocks of learning was too elementary for elementary school, so they started pushing high level Blooms Taxonomy concepts instead of basic skills. “Experts” dismantled the Jr. Highs (that actually got kids ready for high school because they ran like high schools instead of three additional years of elementary school and replaced them with three years of “building their little self esteems” by not expecting students to be responsible or accountable for poor or no work. “Experts” decided that to make AYP all schools would have to eventually have to have a 100% graduation rate! (I assume those experts are wearing jackets that tie in the back and are in padded rooms by now). I bet these “experts” were some of those “Pay for your Ed.D” types.
After 30 years in this field, THIS expert knows, that you will never have success and student performance if the only people held accountable for the kid’s ability to pass a standardized test to graduate is the high school classroom teacher.
Cramming some “new age” one size fits all curriculum scripts down teacher’s throats was a fast lane to failure, Even if this was the greatest move forward in the history of math education, it was doomed from the start because the kids aren’t prepared for it. When the high schools are handed kids who have learned next to nothing for eight years (except the teacher gets in trouble if I fail) and we have to play catch-up, while sticking to the script, lest we be repremanded for straying or (gasp) stopping to explain something to a kid who doesn’t get it.
The system has dumped the responsibility on modern high schools to catching up on 12 years of missing information in four years, so little Susie and Billy graduate and we can make AYP. Entitled and spoiled kids expect to be catered to by the people that they know are under the gun to produce. Thus my desparate principal bribeing kids with Ipods and door prizes to come to Math Graduation Test tutorials, Saturday School, or 8th period, or virtual school, etc., etc.
Until we get back to simple student acountablility (you work and pass, you are promoted, you don’t, there is a consequence, you are held back BEFORE high school) and some sort of return to treating classroom teachers as if they were degreed professionals again, instead of long-term subs, no curriculum will make a bit of difference.


February 22nd, 2011
9:36 pm

There is a well known symptom of “inumeracy” that says if something happens close to you, then it must be very common – like the reasoning exhibited by need to get real. Then, there is all those argument that imply data suggest one thing without actually sharing the data. Others would suggest we do a survey – haven’t we learned anything from the Cobb School Board’s use of a survey?

It is unfortunate that most people are like need to get real and don’t understand the purpose of schooling. So, MathTeacher, I think you are wasting your time trying to be rational and logical. We are dealing with the mass whose mathematics education didn’t focus on helping them to think well…

Toto: Exposing naked body scanners...

February 22nd, 2011
9:39 pm

“the most effective for the 21st century Georgia workforce.”

That says it all. If you don’t want your child to be stuck in Georgia, have them master their math facts by second grade, be able to skip count, make change, tell time, memorize standard and metric equivalents. By third grade they should master multiple digit multiplication, begin long division, learn to manipulate fractions, find area and perimeter. By fifth, they should master triple digit long division and multiplication, multiplying and dividing fractions, reducing fractions, factoring, finding GCM and LCM, manipulating mixed numbers, and introduce geometry and algebra concepts. If this is done THOROUGHLY, 6th grade can be used for Pre-algebra, 7th Algebra l, and 8th Algebra ll. Then, in high school, the student can pursue advanced and INTEGRATED math courses.

Top School

February 22nd, 2011
9:49 pm

Why should you care?…I think you should careless…
1+ 1 = 4
as long as it is to your advantage in APS…


February 22nd, 2011
9:54 pm

@ Look Deeper . . . ditto.
But I’ve been told by my AP that I do not teach accountability, it’s not a GPS! And like I tell my students, if you leave it to the government to teach you anything, then you’re trouble.

Mike Honcho

February 22nd, 2011
10:02 pm

Mathteacher – Contact the department of ed. and have them videotape your classes. Show them how it is done. I got tired of watching videos of the constructivist elementary classroom. You should share your successful methods with others. I am being totally serious.

Yes, another Math teacher

February 22nd, 2011
10:14 pm

Either package works. The problem is the students coming into class 4 to 5 years behind.

The best part of my job is explaining to a mother that her girl failed the CRCT, failed Math I (scored in the 40-50 range both in the class and the EOCT,), and is now in my Math II class. Administration ordered me to tell the mother the girl was in the correct class. (No, I didn’t do it.)

Don’t expect us to teach 10th grade material to someone who is at a 5th grade level (at best.) Changing the order in which the subject is taught will not matter.

Toto, asking most students to do anything with fractions will result in them curling up in a ball and crying.

And, yes, Math at the K-12 level is not about learning how to use it in the world. It is about learning how to solve problems by thinking. Those who say they don’t use Math are the ones that never learned to think.

john konop

February 22nd, 2011
10:26 pm

What I find most bizarre about this debate NO ONE pro math 123 has ever denied any of the issues many of us brought up before and after this failed implantation. It is obvious the people that support this policy have no respect for basic management operational issues any rational manager deals with before rolling out any project.

Please help me understand why you think the below issues are not real problems? Also I find even more bizarre that the pro math 123 crowd is for a one size fit all solution yet the country they use as their key showcase (Germany) has a 4 track education system based on aptitude. This reminds me of when Kathy Cox told us Massachusetts has the identical math curriculum yet not only do they have a vocational track but they teach the traditional track algebra, geometry, algebra 2, Trigonometry, Calculus.

Once again for the I do not now how many times can ANYONE help us understand why you do not think the issues are major problems?

….Math 123 makes the same mistake as President George W. Bush’s unpopular No Child Left Behind program: It’s unrealistic to ask all high school students to complete a college-prep curriculum. Some kids would be better served by a strong vocational and/or technical option.
Math 123 also harms teacher morale. It’s not reasonable to call our math teachers failures because they cannot teach every student Math 123’s higher requirements.
Math 123 leaves Georgia with an oddball math curriculum compared to other states, which puts our kids at a disadvantage as they compete for college acceptance. It has also created a nightmare for students transferring in and out of Georgia public high schools. That’s because it’s very difficult to determine where a student who is part way through Math 123 belongs in the traditional structure. Finally, Math 123 does not track correctly with the math skills needed to complete science courses such as chemistry and physics. Thus, students now face topics in science before they’ve learned the underlying math…..


February 22nd, 2011
10:40 pm

I agree with the precept of preparing students to think critically. HOWEVER, students have to possess the fundamentals before applying them critically. You can’t put the cart before the horse.


February 22nd, 2011
10:41 pm

@Toto-I have to agree with you tonight.
I have a sharp fifth grader. Very early I realized he understood the concepts in his math curriculum but was limited because of lacking basic math skills. His new math curriculum seemed more like a survey course with no time to master and retain any concept. We went back to the basics and he is doing better than ever. Drill baby drill.

Atlanta mom

February 22nd, 2011
10:48 pm

Math Teacher,
I’m glad you are having sucess with Math 123.
Please tell me about your classes. How many students do you have, how many different ability levels do you have in any given class, and do you use the discovery method?
I’m not in an attack mode here, I am truly curious.


February 22nd, 2011
10:50 pm

How are the states with the highest math scores teaching? Why not just copy their model?

Atlanta mom

February 22nd, 2011
10:56 pm

From what I hear about Math 123, it is sounding more and more like the social studies curriculum. It’s a mile wide and a half inch deep. Not good.

Political Mongrel

February 22nd, 2011
11:16 pm

The idea is superb. The implementation was a disaster, a perfect example of how NOT to do it.

Toto: Exposing naked body scanners...

February 22nd, 2011
11:19 pm

“Toto, asking most students to do anything with fractions will result in them curling up in a ball and crying.”

Everything I listed in my post for 5th grade is what my 10 year old is currently doing. In fact, fractions are easy for him and he would much rather do those problems than triple digit long division. This child’s strength does not lie in math, however he has become quite proficient in the basics. I credit this to intense math fact drill since pre-k 4. We also used the same traditional
curriculum throughout and each skill builds on the next in a spiral method. Young children through about third grade need huge amounts of repetition to retain foundational math information in their long term memory. I think this is the major failing in the schools today. They have turned from the proven Trivium method, which recognizes the three major stages of brain development in youth. The Pre-grammar stage, poll/parrot, pre-K to about third grade, uses mass memorization. Children at this age are especially adept at this skill, when given the opportunity. It is like uploading the “operating system” for future complex thought processes.

“The Trivium, used in the middle ages, contained three areas: Grammar, Dialectic, and Rhetoric. Each of these three areas were specifically suited to the stages in a child’s mental development. During his early years a child studies the Grammar portion of the Trivium. The Grammar period (ages 9-11) includes a great deal of language, preferably an ancient language, such as Latin or Greek, that will require the child to spend a great deal of time learning and memorizing its vocabulary and grammatical structure. During their younger years children possess a great natural ability to memorize large amounts of material even though they may not understand its significance. This is the time to fill them full of facts, such as the multiplication table, geography, dates, events, plant and animal classifications; anything that lends itself to easy repetition and assimilation by the mind.

During the second period, the Dialectic period (ages 12-14), the child begins to understand that which he has learned and begins to use his reason to ask questions based on the information that he has gathered in the Grammar stage. It is during this stage that the child no longer sees the facts that he learned as merely separate pieces of information but he starts to put them together into logical relationships by asking questions. No longer can the American Revolution merely be a fact in history but it must be understood in the light of the rest of what the child has learned. For example, how do we understand the actions of the American patriots in light of what we know about our responsibility to obey the governing authorities? How can the fact that Washington and Jefferson are both held up as great men be reconciled with the fact that they were slave-owners?

When a child comes to the age when he has the ability to reason, he usually puts his reason to use by making a nuisance of himself back-talking to his parents or trying catch them in some error or fallacy, but during this time the young mind’s new abilities should be directed towards profitable mental exercises. Formal logic and the proofs of geometry can be a great aid during this time, so that the student learns the rules that guide sound thinking. There are many areas that can be used to provide good practice material for the young mind.. History supplies many events that involve questions of morality which require a good deal of discussion and careful reasoning to work through. Theology also gives many opportunities for debate; even though our discussion must be seasoned with reverence for the subject matter as well as our opponents, fundamentally we can see theological debate as a very healthy and beneficial activity. A less controversial area is that of mathematics; for thousands of years the geometry text written by the ancient Greek mathematician Euclid has provided a beautifully constructed series of geometrical proofs that, with guidance, any perceptive child can work through with great benefit to their thinking skills. ”
For the last stage, see



February 22nd, 2011
11:20 pm

when are you liberals going to face the real problem? Welfare has taken away the need for real fathers and there is no work ethic to study math anymore. But there is great interest in rap and welfare benefits.

Yes, another Math teacher

February 23rd, 2011
2:30 am

“Everything I listed in my post for 5th grade is what my 10 year old is currently doing. In fact, fractions are easy for him and he would much rather do those problems than triple digit long division. ”

Toto, in my post I stated that most of the kids in my class were 4-5 years behind (at best.) They have been passed along. So it would fit that a 5th grader on level would be even or slightly ahead of them.

Choosing what order to teach topics does not matter at the High School level, if the students can not do any basic work. (Imagine a kid in class that will not work without a calculator. Some ‘need’ them in order to add. Often they still get the wrong answer because they hit a wrong button and have no idea that their answer is not even close.)

On the bright side, your kid can probably pass the Math portion of the graduation test. (Old version.)

long time educator

February 23rd, 2011
6:15 am

Any big change like this, should be rolled out very slowly with lots of teacher training. Since math builds on the year before, this should have been rolled out in kindergarten and moved up each year. When I expressed this to the Cox people at the time, they answered that we could not sacrifice a generation of children by going that slowly. Well, now we have this mess. If it was a good idea, it was worth doing it right in the implementation. The people responsible for the implementation at the state level should be fired. It may not be that the actual curriculum is at fault.

Dream on

February 23rd, 2011
6:43 am

@Math Teacher: Oh please…the technology and development and innovation in the world today was all accomplished with students learning math the “old fashioned way”. The time and place for integration is college for those students who intend to make a career out of this subject or apply it in their studies. It is of no use whatsoever for every student to make connections, apply and integrate. I realize it is every teacher’s fantasy to have students connect and light up with the new knowledge they are receiving. But it is only going to happen to a percentage of students. And there is still much value in memorizing, following patterns and doing homework problems. Reform for reforms sake is ridiculous.

Attentive Parent

February 23rd, 2011
6:46 am

GCTM is the Georgia Chapter of NCTM which was discussed below on the Ga Supervisors of Mathematics thread. I won’t repeat that post but it remains relevant here as this is a cartel devoted to making sure the emphasis is not on individual knowledge and understanding of mathematics. The group makes sure the textbook publishers and colleges of ed push constructivism.

Constructivism is not really a learning theory so much as a political theory of how to use the schoolwork to restructure how the individual student, thinks, feels, or acts (that’s why they love Bloom’s taxonomy) and thus in the aggregate reshape American and actually Western society over time.

Math education itself did not really exist until the late 60s when Soviet psychological and sociological methods were translated into English and introduced into American colleges of education as pedagogy to be taught and ultimately used in American classrooms.

Think of the Cold War as morphing into the math and reading wars here and you will begin to understand why we parents are so contemptuously dismissed. We are in the way of desired political change.

Finally the Partnership for 21st Century Skills became so infamous for the low level vague skills being pushed and the boon it represented to the techology companies that it quietly closed shop to go share offices with the federally funded CCSSO-Council of Chief State School Officers.

Local control-that’s so 19th century. You are simply the source of the local property taxes that funds much of this nationally directed effort to change the American society.

One student mind at a time.

Toto: Exposing naked body scanners...

February 23rd, 2011
6:55 am

@another math teacher
I would say that the main problem with math success lies in a poorly implemented “grammar” stage of learning. If a student misses the “window of opportunity” for memorization and mastery of facts, they will struggle with everything that follows. A high school teacher has no material to work with in an ill prepared student. It is easy to understand their failure rate. Yet, the grammar stage education is the easiest and cheapest to remedy. If a student can memorize a rap song, they can memorize their math facts. I visited a school in Haiti years ago. It was a cinder block one room school with a dirt floor. Many of the students had no parents due to the AIDS epidemic at the time. Yet, the children wore uniforms, were respectful of the teacher, and all chanted their fact lesson for the day in unison. This elementary class would put many U.S. ones to shame. Start teaching the Pre-K4 lottery kids their math, geography, and science facts along with their phonics and letters. If you do this, many will be able to do what is considered first grade work in kindergarten. All of mine could write in cursive and read by K-5 using this method.


February 23rd, 2011
6:56 am

If US classrooms are actually using any Russian ideas, I have yet to see it myself. This is the weirdest accusation I have yet to heard – you definitely made me laugh.

The NCTM itself is in existence for a long time – started well before the late 60s. Mathematics education as a discipline of its own right is relatively new. On the other hand, mathematics education research has been going on well before the 60s, as well.

Jackie T.

February 23rd, 2011
7:29 am

There are definitely the “fluency” expectations in the elementary school standards. If teachers/schools/districts are not achieving the standards, then they should be held accountable. However, there are many ways for students to “master” the basic facts than simple drills and flash cards, too.

Attentive Parent

February 23rd, 2011
7:44 am

What?- I said Soviet, not Russian. How are your world history skills?

I do not make assertions I cannot prove. I have however given away enough info that I so painstakingly researched and documented.

But I will introduce a fun riddle-what is the relationship between the PRISM grants and Soviet pedagogy?

Dream on

February 23rd, 2011
8:01 am

Thanks again @Attentive Parent. I know I really appreciate the facts you are providing on this blog. It certainly puts everything we are going through in GA in perspective and context.


February 23rd, 2011
8:41 am

I believe the word “Russia” was being used while the USSR was still in existence, and people often refer to the things from USSR as “Russian” – perhaps exhibiting their geographical ignorance of different parts of that country. S, I don’t see anything wrong with what I stated.

People can claim they can prove something without actually demonstrating they can. I suppose Fermat’s famous assertion developed a whole branch of mathematics, so I suppose you may be starting something. Who knows. On the other hand, there is no single theory/philosophy of mathematics education in the USSR or the current Russia. Vygotsky and his followers receive much attention in the US and other Western world, but I don’t necessarily think they are the mainstream – I think they are more like Dewey is in the US today.

Furthermore, it is only in the last 10-20 years that the Vygotskian sociocultural perspective and Piagetian constructivism (which, by the way, is an epistemology, not a learning theory) were somehow merged into one – social constructivism. A lot of people somehow associate “discovery learning” with constructivism, but discovery learning is fundamentally incompatible with constructivism.

It will be helpful if you can actually clarify what you label “Soviet pedagogy” is. We throw around these labels in this debate (including “integrated math”) without ever defining what they mean. Such a discussion will NEVER produce a useful result.

Oh Well

February 23rd, 2011
8:56 am

@atlmom “How do kids learn in private schools? No one much talks about that, but I don’t see many private school parents complaining about their kids’ educations (or do they just keep quiet?) – if they are effective, why doesn’t the public schools adopt *their* way?”

At my son’s school (private) – his math class is similiar to how it was in my day…no rushing through concepts to make sure a child is ready for the standardized test…you get my point…

He is currently doing “pre-Algebra” in all its glory. Which is pretty much on point with the college prep track in that he will be on to Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2 – and if he’s really good, Trig & Calculus…

Math was not really my strength – but I can see the HUGE GAPING HOLE that this “new” math is.
I don’t complain about what he’s getting in private school because I can see how it lines up…how concepts build upon one another…which is methodical and time-tested.

Innovation is great…but it doesn’t work for everyone.

Perhaps this new math would really work well for different career tracks. But it doesn’t really translate well for those kids that are on the college prep track and have to compete with those who have done well in the traditional math (that many colleges look for)

2 cents

February 23rd, 2011
9:07 am

“It seems clear that our Georgia expertise is exceptional and has shown exemplary foresight into what mathematics students of the 21st century need to know and understand”

April Fools day comes early; this is a joke right?


February 23rd, 2011
9:13 am

I hate phrases like “the 21st century” this and that. On the other hand, it is indeed a fact that knowing multiplication facts was considered to be a major accomplishment for adults in the “good old days.”

2 cents

February 23rd, 2011
9:14 am

omg, my side still hurts from laughing so hard; do these ppl really think that highly of themselves. We know so much better than other states and thats why we have the most bank failures, close to last in education;

wow; they must be way up in their ivory towers where the air is very thin


February 23rd, 2011
9:24 am

On this, and all other “endorsements” of the integrated math, ask yourself,”What’s in it for these groups?” and, “Do these folks work, day in and day out, with the “common” students? Until you answer those


February 23rd, 2011
9:25 am

questions, you should take the “opinion” with a grain of salt.


February 23rd, 2011
10:00 am

I believe that most opponents of an integrated curriculum are confusing that concept with the failed attempt to implement GPS. I agree that the implementation was a failure in many systems. There are also systems and/or schools where it has been implemented with much success. This is because the local system did not rely on the state to fund teacher training and the development of materials to be used. I would suspect that MathTeacher is in one of those systems and there are many like her or him.


February 23rd, 2011
10:02 am

I don’t believe that the intent of an integrated curriculum was to throw out learning the basics – basic addition/subtraction fact, multiplication tables, working with fractions, etc. I would like to hear from any teacher who was told that they were to no longer teach the basics. I think that there was so much emphasis placed on the changes that needed to occur that there was no attention given to what needed to remain. As for students not knowing the basics when they got to middle school or high school, this has been a common complaint for the past 30 or more years. It has nothing to do with an integrated curriculum.

2 cents

February 23rd, 2011
10:04 am

okay, one more thing; have these ppl even been in a classroom? Ha, we still got kids in 9th grade that put a division problem in a calculator backwards.

PLease, PLease come back to reality. one size does not fit all

CCSS Concern

February 23rd, 2011
10:19 am

Along with 44 other states, Georgia has signed onto the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) to be implemented in Fall 2012. These standards have two basic pathways. One is called the Integrated or International and the other is called the Traditional or US. Note that the Integrated model is the model that is used everywhere except in the United States. When tested in mathematics, students in the US are far from the top of the list and students in GA have traditionally been at the bottom of the list by US standards. You might want to discredit standardized test scores but the reality is that they are used to judge success or failure in any field.

Once CCSS is implemented in Fall 2012, one would hope that support materials will be in place by then. Note that either the integrated or traditional arrangement of objectives can be taught without additional teacher training. It was the Task component of GPS that required training and was actually the strength of the philosophy behind GPS. If GA teachers first become accustomed to teaching the curriculum in an integrated format and then gradually introduce the Task component then they will be successful.

I agree that we need to have two different tracks of mathematics – one for college bound and one for non-college bound students. CCSS does NOT address that issue. Under CCSS all students must complete mathematics through Algebra 2. The philosophy is that weak students need more time to learn the concepts and not that they are intellectually unable to understand the concepts. Weak students will be required to take two hours of math a day. Along with Algebra 1 there will be an Algebra 1 Support Class just as we now have Math 1 and Math 1 Support for our weaker students. This will continue through Algebra 2 just as it now continues through Math 3.

A Michigan Resident

February 23rd, 2011
10:30 am

I am a professional computational multibody dynamicist. I have a Ph.D. in the math modeling and simulation of moving things using classical governing equations. I also taught as a part time faculty in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Wayne State University. I didn’t teach many American students. They said engineering was too tough, meaning the math.

I was not a math prodigy in grade school. I didn’t get it until puberty hit and my mind caught on to the quantifiable methods. My math skills accelerated up until my late forties just about the time my testosterone levels began to tank. Point is the connection with brain chemistry and why some people do better than others in the math language. Even Einstein, Newton and Euler lost their production output with age. Not everyone is a star baseball player, concert musician, poet or mathematician. Abstracting numerical symbols to life’s phenomena is tough for many. Maybe math curricula should be structured to student ability. It is a challenge.

Lake Claire Boy

February 23rd, 2011
10:42 am

I have an APS middle school student in an “accelerated math” class and I have to say that I have been impressed in looking at homework assignments and tests with what appears to be the “integrated math” approach. Earlier in the school year I wondered why they seemed to be skipping around between subjects or concepts in math, but have now come to see the wisdom of an approach that forces the student to combine different concepts — algebra, geometry, fractions, decimals, etc. — to solve a problem. This approach truly does require the student to engage in more complex reasoning, problem solving, and logical common sense, rather than just rote memorization of formulas and concepts. It definitely can be harder at times, but I can see my daughter really thinking and learning to figure things out, which is neat to see.

I recall going through the traditional progression of pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, algebra II, trigonometry, and calculus in school, and remember how sometimes when we had to recall a concept from another area of math, that we learned a year or two before, it seemed all very foggy — hard to remember something learned long ago. I also think the traditional approach made math a little more boring. The integrated math approach seems to have the potential bring it all together in a more practical and interesting way.

All that being said, I do notice that sometimes my daughter’s math homework sheets include problems that don’t seem to be as well thought out for the concepts they appear to be trying to teach — just sometimes. So I do sense that there still are some implementation bugs to be worked out. But overall I like the approach.


February 23rd, 2011
10:43 am

Bloom’s Taxonomy is very subjective and biased psycho mumbo jumbo.