To The Editor:
In Numbers Racket: New Type Of Math Is Creating Division (WSJ, Nov 5,1997), June Kronholz passed on the latest damage-control propaganda of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics when she reported "Council members insist the standards are misunderstood; indeed, the standards don't mention constructivism or guess-and-check, and they don't abolish the multiplication table".
Rather than the exact term "constructivism", the NCTM standards regularly remind us that children must "construct their own meaning". In particular, they must "construct their own number meaning". As for "guess and check", the exact phrase occurs 3 times, with 20 additional references to "guess and test" and other forms of "guess". Finally, and most importantly, the NCTM standards regularly downplay the importance of remembering basic math facts. Kids are to "construct" multiplication facts when they need them. Of course the NCTM recommends that every child be equipped with a calculator, beginning in kindergarten.
William G. Quirk, Ph.D. (Mathematics)