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Yearners versus Schoolers*: Will we ever get to a tipping point in math education?

Session 3
ihor Charischak — Council for Technology in Math Education - CLIME

My consciousness of the debate about school reform in math education began in the late 1960s and that debate continues unabated to this day. On one side are the “Schoolers” who believe that schools the way they are currently organized are fine, but just need some tweaking to function better. On the other side are the “Yearners” who believe only in dramatic change that needs to become more student driven and project based, especially with regard to math curriculum. Ronald Wolk in “Wasting Minds” suggests that the solution is to leave the public schools to the reform-minded “Schoolers” and in addition to maintaining public schools in their current form for those who prefer it, a second, parallel strategy be developed where charter-like schools can experiment with alternative organizational strategies. This is particularly needed in math education because the “Royal Roads” to Calculus and Algebra continue to be gatekeepers. Speaking as a card-carrying Yearner/schooler composite, I believe this “one path fits all” should not be forced upon all students. Assuming that schooling should provide for the unique talents of all students, how could we make our math goals better fit the needs of all our students? Is there a middle ground for Yearner and Schoolers? What might that look like in your school?

To help set the stage for this session read Seymour Papert's opening chapter of his book Children's Machine (link below.)

*Terms coined by Seymour Papert in his book “The Children's Machine.”

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ihor charischak
ihor charischak
CLIME-Affiliate group of NCTM


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