The current math war in Alberta is between progressive and traditional models of education. The push to embrace a more progressive model in our math classrooms is being met with push back from the community that had been raised in a traditional education model. The traditionally raised community only has one view of math education, one that is consistent with basic facts and memorization. Rote memorization has been so strongly valued in our mathematics classrooms for so long that our student’s sense of math worth is rooted in his or her ability to complete tasks quickly. This is strongly rooted in a traditional education model. The “new math”, more aligned with a progressive education model, places an emphasis on student’s ability to make connections between multiple concepts and demonstrate understanding in a variety of ways. Teachers consider the principle of continuity when designing tasks to provide students opportunities for authentic learning experiences that keep abreast of our changing world.
Although our current ideals have good intentions, our curriculum is dense with knowledge outcomes, making it difficult for teachers to provide authentic learning opportunities for students. As a result, many teachers fall back into traditional practices aligned with acquisition based metaphors where the learning is directed from the teacher. To honor the principle of continuity we need to compliment the rigid structures we are bound to as teachers, which are aligned with the traditional model of education, to those of progressive education that considers the internal conditions, or needs and experiences of the child.
Until next time,