The USA Today story I talked about the other day is quite long and addresses many facets of the problem. Unfortunately, it is horribly misinformed, and even more unfortunately, many people reading it will believe it.
There’s one paragraph that was disturbing to me about the results of a test called PISA:
“The approach has led other countries to success. Teens in the Netherlands post some of the strongest math scores in the world on the PISA assessment. That’s largely because the exam prioritizes the application of mathematical concepts to real-life situations, and the Dutch teach math rooted in reality and relevant to society. Some longtime Dutch math experts were involved in the design of PISA, which began in 2000 and is given every three years to a sample of 15-year-old students in developed countries and economies.”
The method that the Dutch use to teach math is known as RME: Realistic Mathematics Education, and originated in the Hans Freudenthal Institute. Despite valid criticism of it, like most things in education, bad ideas get touted as the silver bullet and RME is no exception. So I refer you to a post by Greg Ashman in which he analyzes PISA results, showing that inquiry-based learning (which is a large part of the RME method) is not what its touted to be by so called experts, nor USA Today.