Welcome to Laurie Goodman's blog. I use this space to share news and opinions about education and schools in Ridgewood, the state of New Jersey and the nation, in addition to other issues I'm personally interested in. I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, questions or opinions, too, by posting comments on any blog entry. Please observe basic courtesy -- keep your comments focused on issues, no personal attacks or bullying, please. Contact me directly at: lauriegood@mac.com

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

There's new and then there's new.

Last night there was a comment about the newness of the enVision math program. The speaker asked (I’m paraphrasing), “If you had a newborn infant, would you buy the brand new, untested car seat?” First of all, they don’t sell “untested” car seats. Consumers demand some sort of quality/safety testing, the results of which are usually posted on the car seat’s packing or label. But to continue with the analogy, if the car seat was produced by a longtime maker of car seats, a company that has been designing car seats for years, and the latest offering is their newest model, based on previous models but improved through research and testing and redesign, then YES. That’s the car seat I’d buy. I would not buy the first-ever car seat from the brand new “John Doe Car Seat Co.” And I would not buy the car seat marketed as “the old-fashioned car seat, just like the one you rode in as a child in the 60s or 70s.” (Remember, this isn’t my analogy, I’m just taking it a little further to make a different point.)

I, too, questioned the newness of enVision. (Sheila beat me to the question last night!) But then I looked at how it’s really an evolution of traditional math programs from Scott Foresman-Addison Wesley, with “improvements” based on what educators have learned about teaching and learning.

I thought a lot this week about the concept of newness and our different reactions to it. Sometimes we’re excited by the new. We’re drawn to it. It’s human nature and it’s also part of our American culture. But other times we’re just as skeptical of the new. We don’t trust it. It’s unfamiliar. We want the comfort of the things we know. The good old days. I’m not sure what it is that triggers one response over the other. I can honestly say when I first read about enVision, I said, “well, scratch that one, it’s too new.” But then I looked into it and my opinion changed. I became more comfortable. Turning the pages of the textbooks and speaking to teachers who use it (in other districts), I moved from the skeptical to the excited. And maybe that’s part of the recipe for our response to new things: Education. Information. Research. The more we know about something, the more we are able to feel comfortable about it, regardless of it being new or old.

Have a good evening.


Anonymous said...

Well, yes, but this is also the publisher of TERC, which has been a complete failure (I found the votes from both the parents and teachers at Travell revealing) and Connected Math. I've heard a lot of complaints about CMP from other parents. These comments come up in ordinary conversation, from people who are by no means zealots on the issue. My son's starting at BF next year and quite frankly I'm concerned.

Laurie said...

If you review the enVision books, it is clear that it is not TERC.

If you are concerned about CMP at BF next year, I highly recommend that you talk to your son's math teacher as early as possible to communicate your concerns, give the teacher info about your son and ask questions. When my son was at BF last year, before I was on the Board, I went in to talk with his math teacher to ask for specific info about CMP and exactly what was going on in the classroom. It was extremely helpful.

In advance of that, maybe think about setting-up a meeting with Mr. Ilaria, the District's 6-12 math supervisor, before school is out this year.

As a parent, I'm a big fan of cutting to the chase and talking to teachers/administrators about my own child when questions come up.

Anonymous said...

WE have had experience with a NEW curriculum: TERC.
WE have seen it fail our children.
WE would have preferred a textbook-curriculum with a "good" record.
WE do not want our kids to be" the testers" again.
WE would like for this wave of newest is better to stop.
WE as parents are sincerely scared
WE want the best education for our kids, and so far it has not happened.
WE hope you prove us wrong, but in the meantime WE will not fail our children.
WE will provide tutoring even at a very young age.
THEY will be prepared.
WE hope the HS math does not get changed.