In delivering content, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) emphasizes instructional strategies such as algebraic thinking and critical thinking at an early age. Students should learn how to represent situations algebraically. If it is a subtraction question, students need to learn how to use variables to represent the situation. For example, a teacher telling her 1st grade students to remember that you can't take a bigger number away from a smaller one. Unfortunately, this message, if sent often enough, can plant a future misunderstanding related to negative numbers and to the meaning of subtraction. NCTM feels that there is disconnect between grades and knowledge. For example, students struggling with Intermediate Algebra at the community college level after taking Algebra II in high school which is supposed to be the college prep course. In summary, math should not be about repetition and finding the answer. There needs to be an emphasis on writing equations. We rarely discuss the importance of expressing our mathematical thinking using mathematical expressions and equations, nor trying to interpret mathematical thinking expressed as an equation or expression.
The Oakland Press Open Forum Blog Bytes - September 16, 2013