Sunday 13 April 2008

OOPS, The New York State Geometry Experiment,

Well, if you live in New York State, it may well happen that your kid will get a geometry teacher this year, who has NEVER taken a geometry class in his life… Honest…

A couple of decades ago, the schools in New York went to an “integrated” approach that covered a little algebra, a little geometry, a little something else each year, and broke the traditional cycle of Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, Pre-Calculus so common in much of the world. But in 2003, according to the NY Times, “State education officials created a committee to begin rethinking the math standards .., after two-thirds of the students who took the Math A exam failed, prompting a flood of complaints and criticism from parents and teachers.”

To go back to the old way would almost certainly cause someone to lose face after telling the parents, teachers, and world in general that the “integrated” approach would be the salvation of math education. So the New York system has come up with an even better way, It begins with “Integrated Algebra I”, proceeds to “Integrated Geometry”, and then on to ….are you ready for this??? “Integrated Algebra II.” Now THAT is a creative solution. “Never look back”, Satchel Paige often said, “somebody may be gaining on you.”…

There is a hitch. Many of the math teachers, like math teachers in most places, have been teaching for less than four years , at least according to Alfred S. Posamentier, dean of the School of Education at the City College of New York. So they mostly can be assumed to have graduated from high school within the last ten years. Fact one, they never took geometry as a proof based course in high school. Fact two, most teacher training institutions do NOT offer traditional Euclidean geometry in their colleges. Most likely conclusion, there will be some kind of patch up training sessions combined with lots of geometry teachers trying to stay one day ahead of the kids in the teachers manual. Not exactly a recipe for success, so you gotta believe they thought things had REALLY gone downhill.

So if your kid comes home next year and needs help in Geometry, perhaps you shoud not have them follow the tradtional advice of "Ask the teacher."

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