New Standards-Based Teaching and Learning Requires Change
With roots back to pioneer days when a teacher was paid by a community in bushels of apples, the apple has long been the symbol of education in America. We call for the retirement of that quaint and nostalgic fruit and for the induction of pears in this new era of standards-based teaching and learning.
No longer can teachers stand at the front of a classroom with students in rows taking notes and following procedures. A new symbol, the pear, reminds us that both the teaching and learning of mathematics has significantly changed.
Indeed, the adoption of new, high-quality state standards for mathematics, which include Standards for Mathematical Practice or Process Standards, has proven to be a long overdue call for reform in American education. Students are expected to show proficiency in mathematics through a deep understanding of concepts, not just by the fluency of procedures once accepted in a now bygone time. The shift in the learning paradigm means that teachers of mathematics must shift the teaching paradigm as well. Teachers must embrace instructional methods and strategies that lead students through active conceptual development, not just provide students with procedural algorithms.
In order to help students master the new standards, teachers themselves desire new supports such as effective professional learning opportunities, true collaboration among thought partners, and high-quality curricular materials.
It’s time to retire the apple, associated with the type of arithmetical and procedural teaching and learning of mathematics still lingering from past generations. We’ve adopted the pear to represent our commitment to "pairing" and partnering with educators in this new era where instructional practices must change for the sake of student achievement.