What with the PISA scores out, and US not doing as well as other countries, the finger pointing begins. What are we doing wrong? What are other countries doing that we should be doing.
Well, of course, we must not be teaching math right, and Common Core happens to be handy so let’s blame that. But as someone points out in this article:
“You can certainly point the fingers at many things but Common Core wouldn’t be one of them,” added Erben. “Common Core hasn’t been around long enough to suggest in any way, shape or form that it is responsible for the declining U.S. PISA results that have been going on for many more years.”
Good point. Common Core is just the gasoline on the fire of math reform that’s been raging for the last twenty or so years. So let’s blame something else. Like not enough time spent on science:
“Those countries that had significantly higher science scores devoted more hours in school to science, giving kids much more time to do scientific research and experimentation in the classroom,” said Erben. “If you restrict the number of science and math hours then, of course, they’re not going to do as well.”
Let me see if I can shed some more light on this. If you restrict the hours of science and math, it will have an effect–that’s true. But so will having students do hands-on, inquiry-based, student centered learning in K-6. Math appreciation has never been a good substitute for actual math learning. And as long as they’re asking the question about what other nations are doing, how about taking into account how higher scoring countries tend to use the traditional methods held in disdain by math reformers here. And before you jump up and say “But in Japan they teach by discovery, I saw it in a videotape…” consider this article that lays to rest some misconceptions of how math is taught in Japan. Consider also that in Japan and other Asian countries that much outside tutoring goes on (via private tutors, and “jukus” known as “cram schools”) which rely on memorization and other things considered anathema by reformists.
But we’re not likely to see an article like that any time soon. And for those articles that DO talk about what’s wrong, the authors of such articles get called “racists”. (As the comments section of this recent article of mine demonstrates.).
What’re ya gonna do?