Elsewhere in educational news I read that basics are back for math. I suppose we’ll see how long this fad lasts, and if there is any interest by the educrats to check up on its efficacy in educating students (as opposed to generated educrat jobs).One place that I have dealt with personally recently (and therefore of immense importance) is that of estimating.
The 1989 standards tried to promote understanding of math concepts by downplaying “right answers” in favor of estimation.Clearly the emphasis in math should be about obtaining the correct answer. However, I have some sympathy for this view because estimating is a very powerful skill that should be taught as well. It should, however, be taught as ancillary to pencil and paper (or purely mental) arithmetic as well. It would help produce citizens would be somewhat less susceptible to the kind of propadanda that floats around these days. So much of it doesn’t survive this kind of quick and easy “order of magnitude” check. Expecting people to do problems like 4783 / 13 in their heads, or whip out a calculator, in unrealistic. I think it’s somewhat more realistic to expect that, having been taught how to do rough estimates in their heads, they might do that and realize “wow, that can’t be right”.For example, an elementary-school student tackling the problem 4,783 divided by 13 should instead divide 4,800 by 12 to arrive at “about 400,” the 1989 report said. The council said this approach would enable children using calculators to “decide whether the correct keys were pressed and whether the calculator result is reasonable.”
P.S. I was also attracted to this because it fits in to the discussion of evolution, which can only do the equivalent of rough estimates and if you expect precise answers, you’re using the wrong tool. But even rough estimates have a lot of uses.