It’s difficult for me to overstate how tedious I find the commenters at Kitchen Table Math, and math warriors more generally. It’s like watching two sides argue whether it’s better to feed children fruits or vegetables. Both sides approach the new and unfamiliar interested foremost in determining to which reductive party it belongs so they can get properly exercised. Â This requires a healthy amount of unhealthy inference and I’m not inclined to engage any of it. (ie. “All we need are grocery line problems, apparently.” Have mercy.)Â
Skill practice and conceptual development are both essential. I have no interest in any war between them, nor in anyone who suggests they’re enemies. I will put this judgment on the record, though: I have only ever found one of them difficult. Even in my first year, at my worst, I could dip into any number of instructional strategies and problem sets to teach students how to reliably factor, solve, simplify, and evaluate. I have always found it difficult, however, to give my students tools to resolve problems that they haven’t yet seen, to empower their intuition through math, or to convince them to give a damn.
I know I could turn to any one of the KTM pedants at any time to help me improve my skill practice instruction. Â (Okay, maybe not after calling them “pedants.”) There are far fewer people who have any help to offer me on the harder challenge of math education.Â