Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What's Missing from this Picture?

Hank Kepner and NCTM released their latest position paper called ""Guiding Principles for Mathematics Curriculum and Assessment" which is NCTM's effort to support the forging of a common curriculum for Mathematics. It appears to be aligned with the new 46 state initiative to create a common curriculum for all subjects. Putting aside whether you agree or disagree with having a common anything in the world of mathematics education, I couldn't help but notice the omission of an important key word from this entire 2132 word document. (What's missing from the word cloud image above I created with the text of the document?*) Apparently none of the drafters of this paper thought it might useful to include a reference to technology - the only principle from PSSM left out of the document - and the role it must play in any common curriculum. I'm afraid that this common ground movement is making us think narrowly about what Math Ed should look like for students who will be living entirely in the 21st century. It may ease some political tensions, but it also may throw out the baby with the bathwater because it will lack the spirit of what technology brings to the enterprise: an exciting and transformational way to teach and learn mathematics. I just reread the position paper and it does sound good. But there is nothing new here. It's just another tweeking of the same old text that's been overtweeked to death already. It's time for a new, bolder statement about what curriculum should be like where the design principle should be technology. I suggest strongly that this paper be reconsidered and rewritten to add technology as a principle in carving out this common ground curriculum. Otherwise we are just spinning our wheels again. *Answer: technology. To make the image I copied and pasted the text from the document into The size of the words indicates its frequency in the document.