By “dumbing” down our schools curriculum are we actually hurting our children?

Are we dumbing down math and diluting the learning process by trying to make the curriculum fun?

This year our daughter started to learn math using a methodology that is known as Tessellation. In researching what this methodology of teaching entailed it was described as a process of teaching math “which does not depend largely on numerical skills; therefore students with many different levels of mathematical abilities can create them.” The advantage is that “all students have an equal chance to make wonderful artwork and patterns with tessellations.”

Upon reading the above description, I was immediately transported back to my early school years in the 60s when a similar fun-type teaching tool known as the Cuisenaire rods were introduced. The multi-colored rods of varying lengths were at the time heralded as a means of – and you will note an interesting similarity here – allowing students “to expand on their latent mathematical abilities in a creative and enjoyable fashion.”

In my school, the rods were dropped almost as quickly as they had been introduced because it was discovered that they actually undermined the math learning process as opposed to enhancing it. My school was not alone.

Despite the early excitement and the fact that “the rods received wide use in the 1960s and 1970s,” by the 1980s “most schools which previously used Cuisenaire rods stopped using them.”

So here is my question, why will Tessellation succeed where Cuisenaire rods failed? Even more importantly, and along the lines of the old Marine adage that no man be left behind, are we diluting the entire education process in an effort to pass everyone regardless of their mathematical aptitude?

If this is in fact happening, there are going to be a good number of graduating students down the road that are in for a rude awakening when they discover that their diplomas, like the ruble in the early 1990s are, from a global market standpoint, worthless.



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