Costco Connection debate on “Discovery Math”

Western Initiative for Strengthening Education in Math WISE Math

In the July 2014 issue of Costco Connection I (R. Craigen) debate the merits of “discovery math” in Elementary school with Deirdre Bailey, an Alberta teacher who is an outspoken proponent this approach.

Her argument starts out by mischaracterizing the justification for foundation-first (or “back to basics”, or conventional) education.  While we do argue that conventional approaches produce empirically better outcomes in computation and symbolic manipulation (and enquiry advocates admit as much) it is also true, as we repeatedly argue, that students well versed in the basics also do better on complex and information-rich tasks, and show more deeply connected knowledge — that is, “understanding” of the subject matter than those who have been taught to “think critically” in a vacuum of foundational knowledge.   There is a great deal of empirical evidence to this effect, over several decades and in studies of many different types.  However, her framing of that statement suggests that the merits of…

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