Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Frenkel, Bressoud, Brights Spots, and the Implementation Era

David Bressoud recently wrote a post Age is Not the Problem in his MAA Blog Launchings.  There are several topics in his post in his response to Edward Frenkel's Op-Ed piece in the LATimes.

One topic I want to emphasize is that teaching and implementation aspect of the pieces.  There is this sense that the education community needs to wake up and get its act together, and this notion comes up implicitly in Frenckel's piece (and he may or may not have a strong opinion about this topic or have intended something by it).   Readers of his piece, however, may pick up on it, so I think this is a good opportunity to highlight the bright spots.

There are literally thousands of us who are working on implementing high quality, inquiry-based, student-centered methods of instruction that incorporates what we have learned from education research and experience.  Many of us in the community have heard the calls for change and are doing something about this.   There are people who are devoting their careers to address the majors issues in mathematics education.  We have bright spots to celebrate and to embrace as pillars for building real, long-term solutions.

Pointing fingers at "bad teachers" or "bad textbooks" or whatever else is one way to deal with education system issues, but it lacks a constructive outcome.  Truly great nations or communities go much, much further.  They look honestly at the problems, they evaluate and think about the evidence available, and they forge alliances and build systems that provide opportunities for the stakeholders to make good decisions and to do the long, hard job of building solutions to complex, long-term problems.  It's a big job to change a cultural activity like teaching.

Hence, this is the implementation era!  Implementation is a major if not the major challenge we face in education.  We have enough good ideas about how to teach effectively now.  It is worthwhile now to expand efforts and get these methods into our classrooms.  Are these methods perfect? No.  Do we need to do more work on improving our methods? Yes.  But we know enough that it's time to move so we can make differences in the lives of students today.  That's the implementation challenge!  Good ideas are on our shelves.  Lots of good ideas!  Now how do we get those good ideas into the classrooms implemented at a high level across the nation, globe?

If you're interested in engaging in this kind of work, please join the IBL community and AIBL (or NCTM or whatever  appropriate professional society for your area).   AIBL's mission is to help math instructors implement at a high level what we have learned.  We don't just talk about the issues, we implement them in our classrooms right now.   We can do more than point fingers and lament and complain.  We can take action and be movers and changers, and you're all invited.

Upward and onward!

Find AIBL at www.inquirybasedlearning.org
Dana Ernst has started a G+ community https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/107762594334871181831