Content Standards Blasphemy

(I wrote this a year or so ago.)

The problem with problem solving….

Math teachers throughout time have said, “math is important to help you develop problem solving skills.”  And then they show you how to solve the problem and you know how to solve THAT problem.  When faced with a new problem you’re just as lost.

But that’s not the problem.

So we develop quasi real world problems that look open-ended…   But, in reality, we expect a certain outcome from the students.  We expect them to choose a certain strategy and come up with a particular answer,  or range of possible answers.  If they don’t, we help them by giving them a strategy.

That’s still not the problem.

The problem is the standards.  We look at a content standard and say let’s create a problem that utilizes that standard.  We give it to the student and they solve it a different way.  And we adjust and give the next students steps to solving the problem.  Now we’re back to helping the students more than we should because we’re overly attached to the standards.

I may be exaggerating but…  “real world” problem solving is not compatible with content based standards such as California’s.

Developing problem solving skills should be the goal, not understanding the difference between equations of ellipses and hyperbolas.

I hope the Common Core standards are better.

Cartoon by Carlson

(Click here to see how many educators cite the sources of their images.)

About Damon

I teach everyone's favorite subject to Juniors.

Posted on July 17, 2012, in Standards and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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