Public and Professional Discourse (Part 1)
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The Critics: Who Are They? (And Why
Are They So Angry?)
by W. Gary Martin
- They are not a large group
- It is not a homogeneous group
- And as such, their motivations vary.
- Their numbers are not necessarily large
- But… they are engaged with religious fervor
Understanding Our Opponents: Let’s take a closer look at their “hot
- What we can avoid
- What we can leverage on
- Possible wedge points.
- Are they worried about the next generation of mathematicians?
- Is it concerns about articulation?
- Are they preserving a system that worked for them? (making this a very
- Is this a turf battle with education?
- My experience:
- For the most part, most mathematicians are in agreement with the goals
for the reform movement.
- But the noisy few have managed to attain tremendous visibility and credibility.
- The "concerned parents" tend to be more affluent.
- The system worked for them, so why change it?
- They want the best for their children. For their children.
- While they may agree with the general principles of reform, the practical
realities can be very threatening.
- Example: Nearly everyone agrees on the importance of a quality education
- But many parents want their children to get special treatment in "gifted"
or "honors" classes.
- My experience: When they see it in action, they like it.
- They are happy with things as they are.
- It takes a lot of energy to change.
- To admit the need for change is to admit that they aren’t perfect.
- My experience: Teachers do care about kids and can be won over on those
- They need to show progress (testing, etc.)
- It’s about votes.
- My observations: We can help them achieve their goals.
- We need should not think of the critics as a unified group.
- We need to look for leverage points with particular groups.
- ... and maybe even wedge points.
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