An Interview with George Leef: Math and Common Denominators Michael F. Shaughnessy
Senior Columnist EducationNews.org
Eastern New Mexico University
In a recent article posted on this site, George Leef of the Pope Center commented upon the state of math instruction in the U.S. The article can be found at http://ednews.org/articles/28232/1/Ed-School-Math-Training-Does-Not-Compute/Page1.html
In this interview, George responds to some questions about certain specific concerns in the realm of math instruction.
1) How does the U.S. compare to other countries in terms of math instruction?
The mediocre results of American students on international math tests strongly suggests that teachers here are not as well prepared to teach the subject. It may also indicate that our educational environment is less demanding of the rigor and exactitude that math calls for.
2) Let's face it. To paraphrase a statement by Gavriel Solomon " t.v. watching is easy and math is hard". Does the American culture tend to dislike subjects that require attention, concentration, and dare I say it " frustration tolerance" and patience? Or is this all due to poor math instruction in the elementary grades?
Our culture no doubt plays a role here. Many students grow up with teachers who have been trained to think that feeling good is more important than getting correct answers. Some of the kids who grow up in that culture become teachers and are apt to convey a relaxed if not math-phobic impression to their students.............There are 11 questions in the complete interview