Posted on **12/04/2002 9:41:55 AM PST** by **Lizavetta**

Goshen – A new math curriculum plus confused students equals angry parents. At least when that new math curriculum is the Interactive Mathematics Program.

Under IMP, high school students learn from books that have more word problems than equations. Instead of traditional math instruction, IMP emphasizes students working in groups to solve a problem over the course of a few weeks.

Goshen has been using IMP for the past three years in its freshman, sophomore and junior classes. The district plans to add it to its 12th-grade curriculum next year.

But some parents want it gone.

"The whole program is a travesty," said parent Traude Ellert, who has made it her personal mission to convince the district to ax IMP. "It's like a cancer. We are using language arts books to teach math. I'm outraged as a taxpayer. Part of my money was used here."

IMP replaces the algebra, geometry, trigonometry and pre-calculus found in traditional math, where students are taught in a more structured setting and a teacher drills formulas. Students of IMP are taught in groups and spend weeks on one central problem or theme.

An IMP textbook states that it "does not teach directly." There is no index in the book for math concepts. Called "fuzzy math," IMP has received mixed reviews. In 1999, the U.S. Department of Education named it one of the nation's top five exemplary math programs in the country. But some Web sites call it a scam that frustrates parents and turns A and B students into C and D students.

Math is an exact science and IMP makes it cloudy, Ellert said.

"Don't mess with math," she said. "They messed with math and that's not OK."

Ellert, who teaches pre-GED courses at a state prison, began her own math group. Every Tuesday night for 90 minutes, she teaches math to a group of 16 freshmen, including her daughter, from a Math A Barron's Review Book.

The students meet in the art room of the high school, where Ellert gives homework assignments and rewards them with saltine crackers for correct answers. She doesn't get paid to teach and the students go on their own time, many sacrificing extra-curricular activities.

But they don't mind. It's better than learning what they call "CHIMP" math. "We call it CHIMP because it's so easy monkeys could do it," said freshman Katey Bischof, 14, an honors student. "We learned more in three weeks here (with Ellert) than we learned in three months in IMP class," said freshman Hillary Quinn, 14.

The students complain that there are no lessons, just stories; parents can't help them if they have questions because the book does not explain the math problems and the Math A Regents exam has nothing to do with IMP.

Goshen isn't the only school district with IMP. Newburgh also has the program but it is under review, said spokeswoman Rebecca Foster. By the end of next year, the Goshen School District will have spent about $65,000 funding IMP, said Superintendent James Langlois. The district added the program to adapt to changing Regents requirements.

By the time current freshmen graduate, they will have to pass English, U.S. history and global studies, math and science.

"We can no longer allow kids to slide by with the same understanding of math as they did in the past," Langlois said. "Everyone has to pass the Math A (Regents) exam." And that concerns parents.

"We're giving the tutors in the area a lot of business," said a mother, whose son is part of Ellert's group. "As soon as I saw the book, I saw a problem. I said, 'This is not math.' We need a blending of the old math and new math. I don't think anyone is against new and innovative ideas. But you need a basis."

But for Ellert, it's become a personal goal to get rid of the program. "I'm not stopping until this is gone," she said. "It's a travesty to the Goshen School District."

**IMP word problem**

IMP was created in 1989 by San Francisco State University professors Dan Fendel and Diane Resek. The program uses an integrated problem-based approach to teach algebra, geometry, trigonometry, probability and statistics. It is used in more than 350 schools across the country.

For more information, visit the IMP Web site at www.mathimp.org or contact Dan Fendel at 415-338-1805 or Diane Resek at 415-338-2071.

This is an example of an IMP word problem:

"Pick any answer"

Lai Yee has a new trick. He tells someone:

--Pick any number.

--Multiply by 2.

--Now add 8.

--Divide by 2.

--Subtract the number you started with.

--Your answer is 4.

1. Try out Lai Yee's trick. Is the answer always 4? If you think it always is, explain why. If not, explain why it sometimes will be something else.

2. Make up a trick whose answer will always be 5.

3. Pretend that someone gives you a number that he or she wants to be the answer. Using the variable A to stand for that number, make up a trick whose answer will always be A.

Source: Interactive Mathematics Program text book

first

And the schools churn out yet another generation of math illiterates who need cash registers with words on the keys because it's too difficult to add up items with numbers.

Thank God for homeschooling and SAXON math.

To: **Lizavetta**

This sounds like an example of putting the cart before the horse. Learning progresses in very distinct and recognizable stages; Knowledge, comprehension, analysis, application, synthesis and evaluation. This program seems to be asking the kids to synthesize and evaluate problems without the knowledge or comprehension. There are no short-cuts to math. You must put in the time and effort. This program IMO is a waste of time and potential

To: **Lizavetta**

Funny how " traditional " math worked so well for Einstein, Thorne, Hawking, and Newton among others. I wonder if Edison would invented anything using IMP.

But then again, dumb worker bees make for a better hive.

But then again, dumb worker bees make for a better hive.

To: **Lizavetta**

My daughter's math teacher has "rules" for solving math problems. The most important rule: show your work in a vertical manner on the page. If this form is not followed the question will be marked WRONG! Correct answers that are not in the proscribed format will be marked wrong! When I saw this at a parent meets teacher evening, I just bit my lip!!!

But then again, the NEA follows the liberal guidelines of form over substance. Why are we experiencing a math and science curriculum crisis?

I pointed out to my daughter that this is the same problem that doomed the prior NASA Mars probe. Oh the FORMulae were correct! It was the insertion of English rather than metric variables that caused the loss. Ergo the FORMulae worked but the Answer did not. $40 Million down the ole crapper!

To: **Lizavetta**

For all the bashing in the article, that sample question was actually pretty good. It measures your ability to glean information out of a paragraph and then apply your math skills on it.

How many times in real life do you get a question like "x + 4 = 10" and you have to give the answer?

Course this could be taken to the extreme and you never get a word problem that's more complicated than the above question.

How many times in real life do you get a question like "x + 4 = 10" and you have to give the answer?

Course this could be taken to the extreme and you never get a word problem that's more complicated than the above question.

To: **conservativemusician**

"I wonder if Edison could of invented anything with IMP"

Not to be argumentative as I see your point, but let's see what Edison invented using math skills taught in school. He had a creative mind that tried a lot of solutions to problems. That really can't be taught in a math class that's limited to teaching "real math."

Not to be argumentative as I see your point, but let's see what Edison invented using math skills taught in school. He had a creative mind that tried a lot of solutions to problems. That really can't be taught in a math class that's limited to teaching "real math."

To: **Lizavetta**

Saxon math is okay for very basic students. Its *Number 1* problem is *no Problem Solving*. Good students are turned off of math because it is so boring. *You learn math by doing math*, not just by repetition. I am sick of seeing students counting on their fingers (even in junior high). They have got to learn MATH.

To: **Lizavetta**

Does anybody know about the mathematical/scientific background, or lack thereof, of "San Francisco State University professors Dan Fendel and Diane Resek"?

To: **Lizavetta**

IMP emphasizes students working in groups to solve a problem over the course of a few weeks.

-----------------------------------

Social/socialist math. In a few years they can meet as a group when they try to calculate change for a dollar at McDonalds.

To: **mathluv**

Hey, I was homeschooled, and my ma threw Saxon books at my head, and I taught myself advanced algebra and calculus as a highschooler. I was a darn good student if I do say so myself, and not turned off to it in the least. Heckuvalot more interesting than history or lit...

The above is anecdotal and I was the exception rather than the rule because I was a frickin' geek, but I disagree with your assessment in general. High school math is not supposed to be FUN. It is supposed to be functional, and if that means grueling and repetitive to get the message across, then so be it. Good students will hack through it and do what they must to get to more interesting stuff.

To: **AUgrad**

Bingo! But sadly, too many math classes snuggle up against the opposite extreme leaving students poorly equipped to deal with the word problems they see in chemistry and physics. Mindless 'plug-n-chug' repetition is just as useless.

To: **Lizavetta**

Learning how to work number problems is a product of repetition, nothing more. I finally figured that out in my grad level biostats classes. The more problems/equations I worked, the more instinctive my knowledge became. Students need to work the equations and calculations over and over and over. That's how math is learned, starting with basic math facts of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. If a kids gets to middle school and still has to count them on his fingers, math will be a miserable subject for him.

To: **lelio**

Actually I deal with this all the time. Consider the following:

You and three buds go to the bar. By two o'clock in the morning, as you are getting kicked out, the tab is shown to be $113.78. Bud #1 drank four beers and a shot of jag. Bud #2 drank five shots of jag. Bud #3 drank 9 beers and mooched jag off somebody else. You drank 5 beers and three shots of tequila. If jag is $5/shot and tequila is $4/shot, what does everybody owe?

And then you set up your equation, assuming you can see straight--

4b + 1($5) + 5($5) + 9b + 5b + 3($4) = 113.78, where b = price of one beer. Solve for b, and tote up the rest. (Actually I am getting b ~ $4, which probably means that the bartender figured y'all were too wasted to notice and stiffed ya for an extra $20 or so, so that is something else that you will have to deal with...)

And don't forget tip...

To: **Lizavetta**

/p> I've always wondered why people complain about cash registers. Do you really expect people to add up numbers in their head all day and memorize the price of every single item? Any way, I wouldn't be bothered by this if they simply asking seniors to apply what they have learned. One of the things that stands out in mind from the statistics classes I took in college was how much trouble people had with word problems. If you can't read a paragraph and draw on the body of knowledge you've acquired then that learning is largely wasted.

To: **Lizavetta**

Amen, friend. The founder of Saxon Publishing was confrontational with the 'mainstream' educational establishment. He would challenge any school system to compare results with his methods versus any other -- free of charge. With his death, the children now run the company, and they're now just trying to 'get along' with the Socialist math claque -- unfortunate.

To: **maxwell**

No where did I say math should be FUN. It must be functional. Kids must learn math. That does not mean there can not be some fun, but I repeat, math is learned by doing math. For most kids, Saxon is not the answer. It can help some kids. The High school books are better than the elementary ones. The elementary ones were the main ones I was talking about.

To: **Young Werther**

When attempting to learn math the ability to organize information is VERY important. Higher order problems often involve many different calculations. The teacher may simply be trying to teach his students to organize their problem in an effective manner. If they aren't organized, their chances of success are greatly reduced.

To: **quark**

I'm not familiar with Saxon. What makes his methods unique?

To: **quark**

I am not part of the socialist math clique. I do not belong to NEA and never will. John Saxon's methods will work for some students, but not for most. He was good at selling his product to administrators and school boards, and would not make any changes to go with state curriculum. In Texas, like it or not, that means the TABS, TEAMS, TAAS, and now TAKS test. He would never add problem solving to his books. Word problems in a lesson about addition will be about addition. Word problems are NOT PROBLEM SOLVING. Problem solving is what you do when you do not know what to do.

To: **mathluv**

Tell that to the homeschool population where Saxon is the main math text. We are currently using Saxon 54 (4th/5th grade) and Saxon 76 (6th/7th grade) with impressive results. If my kids were Einsteins, Saxon wouldn't work. But my kids are normal to bright, and the repetition/incremental approach is providing them with a solid grounding. It's a damn sight more than I got in my government school education.

To: **Lizavetta**

The push here is not mathematics, it's to teach group-think. The educational establishment desparately wants to stamp out individualism. People are easier to control as a herd.

To: **lelio**

The problem with "the problem" is that it tries to get the kids to "learn" something backwards from the way it would normally be done. Specifically, the problem is designed to get the students to "infer" some of the rules (Axioms) of arithmetic from the example given. Of course, in the real world of Mathematics (as taught in decent Universities), the first thing you are given is the Axioms of the MAthematical system you are working in, and then you DEDUCE various principles (Theorems) FROM THE AXIOMS, not the other way around!

In the example, the problem reduces down to the algebraic expression:

Which when you apply the axioms for arithmetic, reduces down to

In which the variable "x" always cancels out of the equation, leaving "4" no matter what you started with.

A house is built from the foundation up, not from the roof or living room down. Mathematics works the same way; you start with the axioms (foundation) and derive the rest of the structure therefrom. You don't start from a black box and infer what the rules (axioms) are, which is what this problem is doing.

This problem would be useful ONCE the student has learned the rules of Arithmetic, but is a waste of time as a mechanism for the student to learn the rules.

To: **lelio**

That really can't be taught in a math class that's limited to teaching "real math."

----------------------------

Few people here under the age of 50 have probably had real "real math" as it was once taught in this country. In 5th grade we measured and calculated the area of the schoolground in acres. In high school I had the problem, "If you drop a ball off a cliff and hear it hit 20 seconds later, how high is the cliff?" With my old math I was able to write a 1,000 line computer program to analyze horse races. I was able to derive some of the fundamenal equations of calculus such as pi Rsquared before reading that chapter in the book. I can derive a Pearson product moment around a curvilinear form.

To: **Lizavetta**

There is an ongoing percentage of teachers who continually want to "revise" mathematics and who are constantly seeking "new" approaches for teaching mathematics, such as in this program.

The reason for this is that these teachers don't like the subject of mathematics, they never have (that's why they became teachers instead of, say, engineers), and consequently they find it difficult and painful to teach. They don't even understand what they are teaching well enough to do so in an interesting way, so the students lose interest.

Of course, from such a teacher's point of view, the problem must be the textbook and the "way" in which the mathematics is being taught, and the textbooks. It couldn't possibly be that the teacher is a bonehead at mathematics. Nope.

To: **Young Werther**

This was always a sticking point for me in school. I simply refused to knuckle under and give in. It got me nothing but bad grades but I persisted through most of High School because I was a kid and I was dumb.

I see the value in it though. As long as you aren't getting full credit simply for putting down the right formula I don't necessarily see a problem.

Learning how particular operations are performed is important. If a teacher sees what their students are doing they can spot trouble areas and adress them. And it helps prevent cheating.

On the ther hand I think some of my annoyance with this system stemmed from teachers who insisted on overly detailed documentation. At some point it just becomes busy work, and I hate busy work with a passion.

I see the value in it though. As long as you aren't getting full credit simply for putting down the right formula I don't necessarily see a problem.

Learning how particular operations are performed is important. If a teacher sees what their students are doing they can spot trouble areas and adress them. And it helps prevent cheating.

On the ther hand I think some of my annoyance with this system stemmed from teachers who insisted on overly detailed documentation. At some point it just becomes busy work, and I hate busy work with a passion.

To: **Lizavetta**

Anyone want to cross a bridge, or ride an elevator, that these kids had anything to do with???

To: **Lizavetta**

I really don't want to say much about homeschooling. My daughter-in-law did that for 3 years. They were not using Saxon. My other grandchildren are in public school (small town - makes a difference) and they use Saxon. As a math teacher, I am very concerned - I REPEAT - NO PROBLEM SOLVING - that they are not getting the basic math they need. Their parents are having to supplement Saxon. These are smart kids, and both parents are good in math - electrical enigineer and geologist. Saxon does not meet the criteria needed to learn math - PROBLEM SOLVING.

To: **lelio**

The sample question was a fine word problem for students who have *already learned* the basic underlying algebra concepts.

I shudder to think what goes on in regular (not the smartest) students' minds if this problem is shoved in their face before they've learned to grasp equations like "x+4=10", however.

To: **AUgrad**

I diss agree!!

Fuzzy math isn't about correct form but correct answers! Fuzzy math algorythms are used in the auto focus function on you camcorder. Real world correct answers are more important than form! I've seen/created great business models. I've also seen the failure of the enterprise regardless. I worked for a company which used my budget models to chart its course from a $100K/month revenue stream to $30 Million per month. We lost focus and just before a downsizing, (and eventual hostile buy out by the competitor who had forced this issue), our VP of Sales/Marketing owed up to his inattention and stated, "Well, I guess I'll have to give up my Friday Golf Games!!!"

He had mucho salary,commissions and stock options and he fled before the fall. The models were good the execution was crap!

To: **lelio**

Creativity can not be taught. Nor can genius, superior athletic ability, or talent of any kind.

Looking at my lightbulb, I can't help but think a fair amount of school taught math skills were involved in it's invention.

Not to be defensive.LOL

Looking at my lightbulb, I can't help but think a fair amount of school taught math skills were involved in it's invention.

Not to be defensive.LOL

To: **dljordan**

The push here is not mathematics, it's to teach group-think.

--------------

Amen. It's converting math to a group-think love-in with people dependent upon each other producing answers equal to the sum of their individual fears and incompetences.

To: **Young Werther**

Your daughter's teacher sounds like the old Nun math teacher I had. What a ball-buster. WAGs were not allowed. I had better show my work. It wasn't about the answer, it was about me knowing how to get the answer. Thank God for that Nun.

To: **Dr. Frank**

Sadly this is sometimes true - especially in elementary school. Elementary teachers are often language arts people, not math. I am a math teacher. My son-in-law is an engineer. I love math for being math, he loves math to use it.

The one reason more teachers don't love/teach math is money. After 20 years, my salary as a classroom teacher is less than half of his with less experience.

To: **mathluv**

My niece was having trouble with math (she was in 3rd grade, now 4th), and her mother asked me to help out. One "problem" was that she still used her fingers for math problems. Her mother wasn't too pleased when I encouraged her to continue with this - use the tools you've got at hand, so to speak... Anyway, the trick was, as I saw it, to let her use her fingers, just make the problems more difficult, so you've got to be creative.

To put this in perspective, I have a doctorate in physics, but I still use my fingers regularly when solving cross products, just to see the right-hand rule. I almost always wrap my fingers around when doing E&M problems to figure out how the magnetic field will affect things, etc. This is common in physics, we see it all the time. I see no reason a grade school student can't use the same tools.

Anyway, now she's in 4th grade, and we play a game called Nemo. Here's how it goes: Take toothpicks, as many as you want. Make an arbitrary number of piles of toothpicks, with as many as you'd like in each pile (hopefully none more than 31, or you'll need both hands for the solution). On your turn, you may remove as many toothpicks as you would like, but only from a single pile. The winner is the person to pick up the last toothpick.

Now, if you're good enough at math, adding and multiplying by 2, you can solve the problem right from the beginning, ang guarantee a win. Here's how: For each pile, figure out how many toothpicks are in the pile, and break it down into powers of 2. For instance, a pile with 19 toothpicks would be 16 + 2 + 1, or 2^4 + 2^1 + 2^0. Now, let each finger on your hand represent one of the powers of two - we usually let the thumb be 0, and the pinky 4. Put down each finger represented in that sum. Now move to the next pile, and do the same thing. Only, this time, when you're moving your fingers, put it down if it was up, and up if it was down. For instance, say our second pile has 7 toothpicks, or 4 + 2 + 1, or 2^2 + 2^1 + 2^0. Then, our thumb and index finger, which were down, go back up, and our middle finger, which was up, goes down. Continue this until you have "done" every pile this way.

If all your fingers are up, and it is your turn, you will lose unless your opponent makes a mistake. Period. If you have any fingers down, you will be able to win. To figure out your move, do the calculation again, excluding the largest group. See which fingers you have down, and use the sum above. That's how many you want to leave in the largest group. So, using the above examples, where we had 19 and 7, we would just do the 7 - leaving out first 3 fingers down. Adding them up leaves 7 (this is a simple example, we usually play with 5-20 piles), so that's how many we want to leave. We remove 12 from the larger pile, leaving 7, and will win the game. In future turns, you always want to leave your opponent with the symmetric solution (all fingers up.) At some point, he will have to leave you with all the toothpicks in 1 pile, which you then pick up and claim victory.

This makes heavy use of your fingers for doing the math, but you can't just count. My niece plays quite well, and she's also doing great in math now, since she gets so much practice. So don't knock using your fingers...

Drew Garrett

To: ***Education News**

BTTT

To: **RLK**

Few people here under the age of 50 have probably had real "real math"

-------------------

Make that 60.

To: **conservativemusician**

I do not believe Edison was taught in a public school. I understand his mother home schooled him.

To: **agarrett**

Fingers are/were the first manipulative. I love and use manipulatives for the visual approach in math. My problem with fingers consists of trying to add 2 + 2 with them instead of learning what 2 + 2 is.

To: **lelio**

Can you imagine the Quadratic Formula put into IMP.

To: **agarrett**

don't dicsount finger counting.......I've seen kids use Chismbop faster than using calculators.

To: **stylin19a**

I firmly believe in the exercise of heuristics, {aka WAGS!}

Learned responses can lead to creative and inventive outcomes. We know that Edison wasn't the "genius" that is portrayed in the movie, "Beautiful Mind". But Edison did invent the 20th Century. I visited that little lab in New Jersey as a high school student. What a marvelous place!

He gave the world light, sound, camera, and action!!!! His talent was to surround himself with intelligent and creative individuals and then he made his dreams a reality!

To: **RLK**

Social/socialist math. In a few years they can meet as a group when they try to calculate change for a dollar at McDonalds.

And in a few more after that they'll meet as a group to calculate what your allotment of McDonalds Vegan Delux Gruel should be based upon your race, enthusiasm for social justice, and footprint upon the earth mother...

To: **CyberCowboy777**

>I do not believe Edison was taught in a public school. I understand his mother home schooled him.<

He dropped out of school in the 3rd or 4th grade. His mother DID educated him for some limited period of time.

To: **longshadow**

"Thomas Alva Edison was born on February 11, 1847 in Milan, Ohio. With only three months of formal education he became one of the greatest inventors and industrial leaders in history. Edison obtained 1,093 United States patents, the most issued to any individual."

http://www.lucidcafe.com/library/96feb/edison.html

http://www.lucidcafe.com/library/96feb/edison.html

To: **CyberCowboy777**

That would not surprise me!

To: **conservativemusician**

"Looking at my lightbulb, I can't help but think a fair amount of school taught math skills were involved in it's invention."

Most of what it takes to build a light bulb is taught in high school physics and chemistry. Those in turn depend a great deal on math that should have been taught by 8th or 9th grade. Some of what you would need for a modern day light bulb would not be taught until a college level materials course. But a crude light bulb could be built from common materials with no more than a high school education.

Most of what it takes to build a light bulb is taught in high school physics and chemistry. Those in turn depend a great deal on math that should have been taught by 8th or 9th grade. Some of what you would need for a modern day light bulb would not be taught until a college level materials course. But a crude light bulb could be built from common materials with no more than a high school education.

To: **Lizavetta**

My daughter, last year in 8th grade, spent two weeks writing an essay for her math class. Why? I never quite figured that out.

This same school, a Catholic elementary school, wasted years of these students lives with the Univ of Chicago Math books. My youngest had it from 1st grade, by the 4th grade could not even add single digit numbers. And she was the norm for the class. They did finally get rid of this stuff, but it took a lot of complaining. My hubby and I went to a kids' book store that carried homeschooling supplies and got Saxon math books to get her up to speed.

To: **Young Werther**

Thats all well and good. However, for someone who is learning the basics of math, form is very important as it allows the young person to organize information and analyze it which must occur before application, synthesis or evaluation. The example you give is an example of synthesis and evaluation (changing a formula to your specific purpose and then evaluating it's effectiveness) which are great skills but beyond the abilities of most youngsters. Read any math textbook, most begin with a review of the STRUCTURE of math. It's for a good reason.

To: **CyberCowboy777**

Okay; but his mother's participation in his education was also fairly limited in the sense that he was doing experiments on his own at a very young age, building telegraphs and such, and was employed by the Railroad by the age of 12. Beyond the first few years, he was for all practical purposes self-educated.

To: **A CA Guy**

Ping

I "figured" that you would be interested in this.

first

**Disclaimer:**
Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual
posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its
management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the
exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson