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The training of elementary school mathematics teachersAuthor(s): J. Fred WeaverSource: The Arithmetic Teacher, Vol. 10, No. 1 (JANUARY 1963), pp. 42-43Published by: National Council of Teachers of MathematicsStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41186691 .Accessed: 16/06/2014 14:09

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Focal point J. Fred Weaver

The training of elementary school mathematics teachers

/appropriate training for elementary school teachers who provide instruction in mathematics has been a concern of long standing. This concern has been increased in recent years as various exploratory pro- grams have begun to exert an influence on the content of the elementary school math- ematics curriculum.

One of the groups particularly inter- ested in this problem is the Panel on Teacher Training of the Committee on the Undergraduate Program in Mathematics (CUPM) of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA). As part of its work, this panel was charged with the responsi- bility of preparing recommendations re- garding the training of teachers of mathe- matics at all education levels and with the implementation of these final recommen- dations.

An abridged version of the panel's initial recommendations appeared in the De- cember, 1960, issue of The Arithmetic Teacher ("The Training of Elementary- School Mathematics Teachers/' pp. 421- 25) . These recommendations included the following:

"As a prerequisite for the college training of elementary-school teachers, we recommend at least two years of college preparatory mathe- matics, consisting of a year of algebra and a year of geometry, or the same material in integrated courses. It must also be assured that these teachers are competent in the basic techniques of arithmetic. The exact length of the training program will depend on the strength of their preparation. For their college training, we recommend the equivalent of the following:

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"(a) A course or a two-course sequence de- voted to the structure of the real number sys- tem and its subsystems.

"(b) A course devoted to the basic concepts of algebra.

"(c) A course in informal geometry. "The material in these courses might, in a

sense, duplicate material studied in high school by the prospective teacher, but we urge that this material be covered again, this time from a more sophisticated, college-level point of view.

"Whether the material suggested in (a) above can be covered in one or two courses will clearly depend upon the previous preparation of the student.

"We strongly recommend that at least 20 per cent of the Level I teachers [teachers of ele- mentary-school mathematics] in each school have stronger preparation in mathematics, com- parable to Level II [teachers of the elements of algebra and geometry] preparation, but not necessarily including calculus. Such teachers would strengthen the elementary program by their very presence within the school faculty. This additional preparation is certainly re- quired for elementary teachers who are called upon to teach an introduction to algebra or geometry."

Various ways and means are being used to disseminate, clarify, and implement the CUPM recommendations at each of the five levels identified in the panel's initial report: Level I, teachers of elementary school mathematics; Level II, teachers of the elements of algebra and geometry; Level III, teachers of high school mathe- matics; Level IV, teachers of the elements of calculus, linear algebra, probability, etc.; and Level V, teachers of college mathematics. One approach is summarized below, as reported by Professor Gertrude Hendrix, chairman of the Committee on Strengthening the Teaching of Mathe-

The Arithmetic Teacher

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matics, of the Illinois Section of the Mathematical Association of America.

This "Illinois Committee'7 conducted a questionnaire study of Illinois college and university opinions regarding the CUPM recommendations for teacher training on Levels I, II, and III. Questionnaires were sent to heads of departments of mathe- matics in all 77 colleges, universities, and junior colleges certified for teacher train- ing in the state of Illinois, and to all mem- bers of the Illinois Section of the MAA not included among the department heads. Of the 57 replies received, 52 were from mathematics personnel in Illinois institu- tions of higher learning representing 46 of the 77 colleges, universities, and junior colleges in Illinois, including 34 of the 53 institutions of higher learning with four- year teacher-training programs approved by the Illinois State Teacher Certification Board.

A summary of questionnaire returns re- vealed that 53 of the 57 replies favored programs including at least the CUPM recommendations for elementary and sec- ondary school teachers, with 6 of the re- spondents indicating the belief that the CUPM recommendations were not strong enough.

There were 13 expressions of skepticism concerning the CUPM recommendations for teacher-training requirements. This skepticism was concentrated on the recom- mendations for the preparation of ele- mentary school teachers, in light of the elementary education curriculum require- ments and probable resistance from some departments of education.

Despite the skepticism indicated above, on May 11, 1962, the Illinois Section of the Mathematical Association of America unanimously approved the report of the

January 1963

Committee on Strengthening the Teaching of Mathematics which included the follow- ing recommendation :

"That the Chairman of the Illinois Sec- tion of the MAA be authorized to transmit to the Chairman of the Illinois Commis- sion on Teacher Education and Profes- sional Standards (TEPS) the following resolution :

"Be it resolved that the Illinois Section of the Mathematical Association of Amer- ica urges Illinois representatives of the TEPS Committee to seek the introduction and passing of a bill at the next session of the Illinois State Legislature to require

"(1) three (3) years of college prepara- tory high school mathematics as pre- requisite for entrance to the elementary teacher-training program, and (2) twelve (12) semester hours of mathematics, four (4) of which may be obtained by pro- ficiency examination by candidates who present more than the three-year require- ment in high school mathematics."

The outcome of this resolution will be of interest to all who are concerned with the training of elementary school mathematics teachers.

What else s being done?

What other ways and means are being used to disseminate, clarify, and imple- ment the CUPM recommendations re- garding the training of teachers of ele- mentary school mathematics in particular? It is hoped that information of this kind will be reported so that it may be shared with readers of The Arithmetic Teacher in some future issue. (Send such informa- tion to J. F. Weaver, Boston University, 332 Bay State Road, Boston 15, Massa- chusetts.)

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Article Contentsp. 42p. 43

Issue Table of ContentsThe Arithmetic Teacher, Vol. 10, No. 1 (JANUARY 1963), pp. 1-55Front MatterEditorial commentsAs we read [pp. 1-1]Roving reporters [pp. 1-2]

The reform movement in arithmetic and the verbal problem [pp. 3-6]Know thy limitations (assumptions) [pp. 7-8]The semantics of mathematics [pp. 9-11]Africa asks America [pp. 11-11]Arithmetic achievement and instructional grouping [pp. 12-17]Errata: Apologies to John G. Saxe and his "The Blind Men and the Elephant" [pp. 17-17]For mentally advanced pupils in arithmetic [pp. 18-21]Diagnosis and correction of arithmetic underachievement [pp. 22-27]The new mathematics within us an after-school club [pp. 27-27]Arithmetic by television [pp. 28-30]Student teachers look at the teaching of arithmetic [pp. 31-36]In the classroomUtilization of teaching materials in first-grade mathematics [pp. 37-41]

Focal pointThe training of elementary school mathematics teachers [pp. 42-43]

ReviewsBooks and materialsReview: untitled [pp. 44-45]

Report of the Nominating Committee [pp. 46-54]Professional dates [pp. 55-55]Back Matter