The Devlin rant: http://www.maa.org/devlin/devlin_06_10.html
I posted a response on the blog: http://gasstationwithoutpumps.wordpress.com/2010/07/05/math-isnt-memory-work/
Here’s what I posted:
I feel like you, if math didn’t involve creative thinking, I wouldn’t be doing it. I couldn’t teach in a program that revolved around students memorizing rules. I wonder about some of the other points Devlin makes though. He says,
“Of course, teaching math in the progressive way requires teachers with more mathematical knowledge than does the traditional approach (where a teacher with a weaker background can simply follow the textbook – which incidentally is why American math textbooks are so thick). It is also much more demanding to teach that way, which makes it a job that deserves a far higher status and better pay-scale than are presently the case. And it’s a lot harder to collect the data to measure the effectiveness of the education, since it means looking at the actual products of the process: real, live people.”
He’s making a whole bunch of claims here. He seems to be saying that the typical math teacher is simply not capable, ability-wise, to teach using an approach that requires independent thinking. This should be a controversial point, and is not necessarily the case.
He also makes another point I agree with: there’s a mistaken reliance (in America, at least) on quick and easy quantitative tests as assessment tools.