What are "contextual and situational situations"? It has something to do with integrated math, the latest topic of discussion at Schoolhouse Talk:
Integrated math allows students to learn the same content that is taught in algebraic math, but in a different context, with an emphasis on contextual and situational situations rather than formulas and algorithms.
Integrated math (or "new math," or whatever you want to call it) provokes heated discussions in Missouri and around the country. Edspresso has published an essay titled, "Traditional Math Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry." There’s even an entire website, Weapons of Math Destruction, which has published 85 cartoons on the topic of integrated math.
Anyway, the latest development in Missouri is that some parents are complaining about the Columbia Public Schools’ integrated math curriculum. The district uses integrated math at the elementary level and gives high school students a choice between integrated math and a traditional math track. I haven’t been able to find out whether the middle schools use only one program, or both. Some Columbia parents supplement their kids’ schoolwork with Singapore Math, one of my favorite math curricula. (Yes, I actually have favorite math curricula.)
I’m sympathetic to parents’ objections about new math, but that doesn’t mean the district should necessarily get rid of it. Kids don’t all learn the same way; for many, an integrated approach could be more intuitive or interesting. Columbia Public Schools already give parents a choice about math at the high school level. If they allowed parents to choose traditional math at the elementary level too, more people would be satisfied with the curriculum. Some elementary schools allow parents to choose between single-sex and coed classes; a choice between traditional and integrated math should be even easier for schools to offer, because it affects just one subject rather than the entire school day.