Thanks for those thoughts. I don’t disagree that we need a basic understanding of math. It is a way of viewing the world. Problem is, as you suggest, the tests, and in turn the curriculum in many cases, just treat it like a set of formulas.

My larger point is that we have kids spend a lot of time on stuff that they may not end up using at the expense of giving them time to go deep into topics they have a passion for. I think we need to be willing to let go of much of what the tests “cover” in order to help kids stay engaged and passionate about learning.

]]>Two. My son, 10th grade btw, said the other day that he believed we (the parents) believed in understanding over “education”–quite a statement to parents who both work in the education field. But I liked the term understanding vs. learning or even education. Because it’s true, we want our kids and our students to gain an understanding not just to memorize facts and spit them out on a test.

Putting those two together a bit and thinking, after just skimming Karl’s post, we might say that we all need an understanding of math even if we can look up the formulas for things when necessary. How would one know what to look up in some cases if you didn’t even know that you can calculate the area under a curve? Math is not just a series of formulas, but a way of viewing the world just as different areas of science are and different books make us see things differently and on and on.

I think what happens with tests is that that is lost. Kids no longer see that math or grammar or reading or science is about *understanding* their world. We need teachers to get that across despite the testing and the core curriculum and whatever else may appear as barriers.

I have many students who want to just be shown how to complete a process, and either can not, or will not try out different methods to figure out the answer, or know how to look up a solution. I spent almost an hour with a student last week who wants to retake a course for a third (he’s currently taking it for the second semester and passing) time I suggested that he use the software on his own and that he could ask questions as they came up. After an hour explaining that it wasn’t my goal to teach him everything that he will ever need to know, but to show him the fundamentals and how to come up with possible solutions, so that he could solve problems on his own.

I have also have read more in the last several years that in all of my time in high school and college.

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