The University of North Carolina is hosting a professor from the University of Illinois who maintains that what “minority” students need if they’re going to understand math is for it to be presented as a “social construct.” This makes me think of the famous hoax by Alan Sokol — a published paper contending that gravity was a “social construct.” I don’t think this is a hoax, though.
Sandra Stotsky has an excellent article in City Journal discussing how our education schools are failing to deliver on math education - because they have become over committed to some progressive ideas about math education which really don't work as well as traditional teacher-directed approaches. She notes that:
The heart of the disagreement between progressive math educators and mathematicians is whether students are acquiring a foundation in arithmetic and other aspects of mathematics in the early grades that prepares them for authentic algebra coursework in grades 7, 8, and 9. If not, they then cannot successfully complete the advanced math courses in high school that will prepare them adequately for freshman college courses using mathematics.
In reading a bit about this subject, in seems that although there are many sincere and intelligent people on both sides of the debate, in the end it comes down to building curricula based on the best evidence of what works. As Stotsky suggests, a part of the problem with our ed schools is that they tend to produce only research which supports the researchers' own preconceptions. One supposes that part of the reason for this is that doing large-scale scientific studies has become so expensive. Nonetheless, if our ed schools wish to remain at all relevant they need to begin to hold themselves to higher evidentiary standards.