Back-to-Basics in Mathematics
Traditional mathematics emphasised drills and memorisation of methods and caused many people in earlier generations to hate mathematics. Progressive methods of teaching mathematics aims to get children to understand how mathematics works and to relate it to their lives. For example, Chicago teacher Eric Gutstein uses the conflict between tomato pickers and growers to get students to perform mathematical calculations to work out the merits of each side’s argument; how long pickers have to work to get the amount growers claim they earn, whether they earn more or less than the minimum wage, etc.
Progressive methods encourage students to find their own ways to solve maths problems and find the correct answer. Now it is claimed that US students are falling behind students in other nations in their ability to do international maths tests and that they need to learn the basics. There has been a call for a return to basic drills and memorization.