Madness in Seattle

A judge overturned the math textbook selection of the Seattle school district, on the grounds that the books are “inquiry-based” and not as effective (according to the plaintiffs in a court case) as “direct instruction”. The textbooks are published by Key Curriculum Press, and include the Discovering series for algebra and geometry, and the Foerster books for precalculus and calculus.

More information is available on the Key Web site, including the court documents, and letters of support for Key from math education researchers. The latter argue that the evidence is overwhelming that the newer curricula give students deeper understanding than traditional materials, without hurting their basic skills. Alan Schoenfeld points out that the anti-inquiry activists in the math wars are reminiscent of the climate change deniers: highly ideological, and weak on scientific evidence.

Send your own letter of support to Key Curriculum’s CEO, Karen Coe (kcoe at keypress.com). [Aside: her name is an anagram of her job!]

My own brief foray into the math wars is summarized on this page on my Web site. I had hoped that 12 years later things would have calmed down, but alas, I was wrong. 

–Henri

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