US Teachers See Limited Success In Overhauling Math Instruction


In a piece for the New York Times (7/24, Subscription Publication), author Elizabeth Green profiles Akihiko Takahashi, a leading Japanese math teacher who derived his pedagogical ideas from such American reformers as the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, “which published manifestoes throughout the 1980s, prescribing radical changes in the teaching of math.” When Takahashi “got the opportunity to take a new job in America, teaching at a school run by the Japanese Education Ministry for expats in Chicago,” he was dismayed to find that classrooms in the US typically use old-fashioned techniques based on repetition and drills. The article suggests that this “wasn’t the first time that Americans had dreamed up a better way to teach math and then failed to implement it,” noting that often teachers are told to implement innovations without sufficient training or support.