Opinion
Mathematics Letter to the Editor

Math’s ‘Anti-Reformers’ Misread Asian Competitors

March 20, 2007 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

Regarding T.C. O’Brien’s Commentary about the ongoing “math wars” between reformers and anti-reformers (“Mathematics and the Pure in Heart,” Feb. 28, 2007):

It’s ironic that many of the Asian countries anti-reformers hold up as pinnacles of mathematics education are actually shifting away from drills and direct instruction and toward a more inquiry-based approach that promotes creativity and the use of technology.

I spend a fair amount of time working on mathematics technology and other education issues in Asia. While differences exist between countries, I see educational leaders there working toward a system that encourages originality, critical thinking, activity-based learning, and problem-solving.

How sad that the mainstream U.S. mathematics community, which pioneered many of the ideas catching hold in Asia, must waste time defending against those pushing an approach that countries across the globe are realizing does not work.

We are creeping backward, and our students are suffering. Mr. O’Brien is right: Memorizing mathematical facts and tables won’t do students any good if they don’t learn how to use them to solve real-world problems.

I fear for our future, should the anti-reformers win the math wars. Maybe the United States will rank first in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study the same year that Asian countries decide such a narrowly defined instrument doesn’t make any sense with respect to promoting the creative application of knowledge—and abandon the TIMSS race en masse.

Steven Rasmussen

President

Key Curriculum Press

Emeryville, Calif.

A version of this article appeared in the March 21, 2007 edition of Education Week as Math’s ‘Anti-Reformers’ Misread Asian Competitors


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Evaluating Equity to Drive District-Wide Action this School Year
Educational leaders are charged with ensuring all students receive equitable access to a high-quality education. Yet equity is more than an action. It is a lens through which we continuously review instructional practices and student
Content provided by BetterLesson

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Mathematics Opinion Q&A Collections: Math Instruction
Nearly 100 math educators answer 10 years of questions!
5 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
Mathematics Opinion 'Beware of Teaching Math Vocabulary Out of Context!'
Three educators share their favorite math instructional strategies, including 'Turn & Talk to Your Neighbor.'
11 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
Mathematics Opinion Four Teacher-Recommended Instructional Strategies for Math
Four teachers share their favorite strategies for math instruction, including the Concrete Representational Abstract approach.
10 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
Mathematics Opinion What It Takes to Actually Improve Math Education
Barry Garelick, a veteran math teacher and author, shares three reform trends that he sees contributing to problems in math education.
6 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty