I’m not sure why revolution is such a good word to use. After all, there was the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, another French Revolution, those African Revolution and, one of these days, there will probably be another French Revolution.

So why is the idea of teaching revolution so glorious? There is no Anton’s key to teaching brilliance, but still theorists and experts make a mint promoting their Great American Teaching Revolution when every other flavor-of-the-month curriculum has gone the way of the dodo.

What inspired this rant? We have, on the horizon, not one but two potential revolutions in elementary mathematics on the horizon. Click on the links, and you’ll notice that they take drastically different directions in math curriculum modification.

In the first article, we have some award-winning wingnut professor advocate abolishing fractions in elementary schools. In the second, we have elementary math getting “exponentially tougher,” with students in the early grades learning algebra through “number sentences.”

Dennis DeTurck’s argument is that fractions shouldn’t be taught until they’re relevant, as in pre-calculus or trigonometry.

Counter that with the lower schools teaching higher math sooner, and you have one hell of an issue. If either theory takes off — and I hope that DeTurck’s “revolution” does its nosedive into obscurity soon — the other one doesn’t stand a chance.

One argues significantly speeding up math standards. One, using the current general framework, would irrevocably rearrange it. As personal experience with Integrated Math tells us — not to mention the published criticism — rearranging nationally accepted framework ends in disaster and untaught kids.

There’s no way this is going to end nicely. As Malcolm X used to say when advocating his Black Nationalism:

“There wasn’t anything as bloody as the American Revolution.”

This is about as bloody as education reform gets, and that’s what DeTurck’s proposal would provoke.


As a footnote, I realize his argument is somewhat diluted by a few layers of newstelling. As The Washington Post reported that he made his comments as part of a 60-second lecture series, I went to find a clip of it on YouTube. Not there, alas.

In a subsequent Google search, however, my study partner gave me a link to another DeTurck-related article. Turns out, this is all meant to promote a new book. His 60-second lecture series is old news, according to the same article.

Suddenly, DeTurck’s recent resurgence in exposure all makes sense.

Moral of the story? Cash in on controversy, even if you have to spread on an extra layer.


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