Friday, May 22, 2009

Saxon Math

As the anti-reformists continue to post blogs, websites, and petition to rid schools of NSF reform minded programs, they say little about the programs they support.  Occasionally, anti-reformists point to Saxon Math as the answer to their prayers.  Consider below the comments from a mathematician, H. Wu, from Berkeley about Saxon Math:

But I think that what perhaps disturbs me the most about Saxon is to read through it. I myself do not get the feeling that I am reading something that when the children use it they would even have a remotely correct impression of what mathematics is about. It is extremely good at promoting procedural accuracy. And what David [Klein, of Cal State-Northridge] says about building everything up in small increments, that's correct, but the great pedagogy is devoted, is used, to serve only one purpose, which is to make sure that the procedures get memorized, get used correctly. And you would get the feeling that - I think of it as a logical analogy - you can see the skeleton presented with quite a bit of clarity, but you never see any methods, your never see any flesh, nothing - no connective tissue, you only see the bare stuff.  A little bit of this is okay, but when you read through a whole volume of it, really I am very, very, uneasy. . . . When I do this, I want to emphasize that I do not single out one or two examples. I am trying to describe through one or two examples the overall, the overriding, impression that I have. And when that happens, you get the feeling that, if my students use this, how could they not get the idea that mathematics is just a collection of techniques? If that is the case, what happens to them when they go on to middle school, and then to high school, and after that, God forbid, you might be facing them in your freshman calculus classes. And that is a frightening thought.

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