Back to Basics: A False Solution to Mathematics and Science Test Scores

There was an article today in the New York Times entitled As Math Scores Lag, a New Push for the Basics. The article is about “rethinking” the teaching of mathematics, which has been prompted by students’, lagging test scores on international tests. The blame is put squarely on the “new math” which some label as “fuzzy math.” Another words, any reform that took place in mathematics MUST HAVE BEEN implemented nation-wide, and as a result students don’t know how to do long division, and other arithmetic skills.… Read more

Learning to Learn

I’ve been recently reading about early American history, especially the revolutionary period, and have especially appreciated authors including Joseph J. Ellis (The Founding Brothers, American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson, and His Excellency George Washington), and David McCullough (John Adams and 1776). One of the things that struck me was how dependent the founding brothers (fathers) were on books to learn new things. I know this is not a new idea, but in light of our challenge in schools in general, and science education specifically, one wonders how to instill the love of learning in our students.… Read more

Inquiry: Learning to Open the Mind

One of my favorite columns appears in Newsweek Magazine entitled The Last Word by Anna Quindlen. In a recent piece (May 30, 2005), “Life of the Closed Mind,” Qundlen is concerned that in recent years (after 9/11), America has become a country that sets its young people the terrible example of closed minds. What is needed, according to Quindlen, is to create more uncomfortable experiences in schools and colleges, such as “exploring new ideas, encountering people with different values, learning a new discipline’s way of thinking and having someone point out a flaw in one’s argument.” In teaching, the way to help people develop an open mind is through intellectual inquiry.… Read more