Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Mathematics curriculum in the USA:

Some of the most pressing issues include the following :
1. the ongoing debate over best practices in the teaching of mathematics
2. the influence of standards on curriculum, teaching, learning and assessment
3. the increasing attention being paid to assessment and student outcomes


i. 1983 - A Nation at Risk (a critical self - analysis of status and quality of American education).
ii. Low academic achievement of US mathematics students as compared with other nations such as
    Hong Kong and Japan.
iii. Mathematics education as a powerful indicator of technological advancement.
iv. Implementation of No Child Left Behind (NCLB 2002) policy- set high standards and expectations for all students, regardless of race, ethnicity, family, background or disability.

Moving Forward:

1. In 1985 - Project 2061 : Mathematics Standards (ie Standards-based curriculum;
NCTM Curriculum Standards (1989).
- a reaction to the apparently "low standard" of mathematics education in the USA.

2. Shift of approach in maths education - change from previous dualistic approach (ie minimal maths for the majority of students and advanced maths for a few students) to a common core of maths for all students (standard -based) throughout their school experience.

 Focus on three aspects of mathematics curriculum:

i. the processes of mathematics (eg mathematical thinking - abstraction, representation,symbolic
transformation, Higher Order Thinking (HOTs) etc: mathematical applications etc);

ii. the content or subject matter of mathematics
(ie focus on mathematical significance,
those concepts and skills that can serve as a foundation for a lifetime
of individual growth - arithmetic,algebra,geometry, analysis, discrete mathematics, probability and statistics).

iii. applications and connections of mathematical ideas
- maths should be seen as a part of human experience, emerging from everyday experience;
students should understand both the processes of maths and their interaction with science
and technology;
- students should learn to communicate in the language of maths;
- mathematics should be learning as an integrated whole- as a network of interconnected processes, concepts and procedures;
- students should learn to translate their intuitions about how things work into hypotheses and
mathematical models of the real world;
- students should learn to recognize and formulate/pose problems themselves from situations within and outside of mathematics (ie problem posing beyond problem solving- to develop creative thinkers)
apply mathematical modeling to solve problems that arise in other disciplines, such as science, technology, business etc).

The ultimate goal of teaching mathematics is to help all students develop mathematical power and to think mathematically (ie to develop powerful mathematical thinkers) and effective problem solvers ( ie not limited only to solve well defined/routine maths problems).

Discuss how the above focus of  maths curriculum in the USA can be adapted and implemented in the contexts of Malaysian schools? Give your examples.

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