Honestly, what a silly title for a post, and yet, it does seem to be that way.
Often when the idea of teaching creative and critical thinking skills is raised, people object, saying that what children really need is to master the basics – core knowledge. What I can never figure out is why it has to be an either/or situation. It seems like unless one is bent on teaching strictly by drill-and-kill, the two concepts enhance each other and can naturally be taught together – and are by many teachers.
I think perhaps it is when the pendulum swings a little too far that people get upset – as with the failing Discovery Math curriculum in Seattle. I love a problem solving approach for math and think manipulatives are terrific tools, but I am not a fan of this program. In math, as in most subjects, kids need to learn to problem solve AND they need to master core skills.
What I don’t understand is why this is so challenging. I must be missing something, I really must. It seems relatively simple to write a curriculum to teach basic skills along with problem solving strategies and then give students the opportunity to apply what they have learned to interesting and challenging problems…and yet for some reason this must not be what the people making the curriculum decisions want. It seems like rather than finding a balanced curriculum, we are constantly swinging between drill-and-kill and discovery.
I must be missing something because the people who make these choices are much smarter than me and certainly much more knowledgable about math curriculums. Could it be that they are weak in critical thinking skills and therefore could not properly evaluate the curriculum?
Someone please explain to silly, stupid me, what I am missing here. I just don’t get it.
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