A Summer in Madrid – It’s Not What You Think

As my time at UNIS Hanoi comes to a close, I’m already looking ahead to my summer plans. I will be spending the month of July in Madrid while the rest of the family goes back to Australia. I can hear you wondering, “How did you manage THAT?!?”

Four weeks living the bachelor lifestyle in Madrid sounds fabulous… but that’s not going to be me! It won’t be all tapas and cava…

I’m embarking on a 13 month MEd. in International Education Administration from Endicott College. This summer will consist of four courses in four weeks, then four online courses over the course of the school year, and then four more weeks and four more courses in Madrid in July 2014 (this time with the family)!

For the next five weeks or so this blog stands the chance of seeing an inordinate number of posts focused on what I’m reading, thinking, discussing or presenting as it relates to my classes. And so it begins…

In “A Diploma Worth Having” Grant Wiggins argues that the current (American) high school diploma doesn’t actually prepare students for adult life.

We are on the verge of requiring every student in the United States to learn two years of algebra that they will likely never use, but no one is required to learn wellness or parenting.

And later:

In sum, it seems to me that we still do not have a clue about how to make education modern: forward-­looking, client-­centered, and flexible; adapted to an era where the future, not the past, determines the curriculum.

Since I’ll be back in the math classroom next year (only teaching one class), I’m really interested in this critique of the draft Common Core Standards by the Partnership for 21c. Skills (my emphasis):

the standards should include more emphasis on practical mathematical application (for example, analyzing financial data); include statistics and probability in the elementary grades and emphasize these areas more in the secondary grades; and focus less on factual content mastery in favor of better integrating higher-order thinking skills throughout the curriculum

I’ve come to believe this more in the four years that I’ve been out of the math game. I mean, who needs to memorize the Pythagorean Theorem these days? I used to teach a whole unit on this! Surely it’s better to focus on finding and investigating authentic problems that requires students to think like mathematicians rather than regurgitate a formula.

Wiggins also introduces me to the Quantitative Literacy Manifesto (2001) (retrieved here) which calls for developing in students:

a predisposition to look at the world through mathematical eyes, to see the benefits (and risks) of thinking quantitatively about commonplace issues, and to approach complex problems with confidence in the value of careful reasoning. (p. 22)

I think I’m going to need to find the time to read this more fully…