Hung-Hsi Wu, professor emeritus of mathematics at Berkeley, has a new article in American Educator. He addresses the new Common Core State Standards. His metaphor is of a phoenix rising from the ashes. Yeah, CCSSM is that good, and everything else that has been happening in mathematics education is that bad.
I do not exaggerate.
The article is long (11 pages, including 3 sidebars-all his). Aspects of his argument require a certain amount of mathematical sophistication (which is sort of his point). Therefore, in the service of those with less patience than I possess, I will spend the week sharing some key nuggets from the article. Each nugget will be accompanied by my own (possibly imperfect) translation.
Shall we begin?
Wu on the role of standards in K—12 mathematics:
[T]he prevailing dogma in mathematics education is that the main purpose of a set of standards is either to pick and choose from a collection of tried-and-true topics…and organize the selected items judiciously, or to vary the pedagogical approaches to these topics. (p. 4)
WHat i think he’s saying
The sum total of all efforts in standards-based mathematics education (since Plato presumably, and with the possible exception of American high school geometry) has been a grand exercise in rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. But Common Core will be different. (High school geometry, we will see later on, may have had its deck chairs rearranged, but the boat is sailing along quite nicely.)