Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A Paradigm Shift at NCTM

As I was preparing for a talk on Math Future about my recent book, I was struck by the interesting, but contrasting parallels between the impact that Seymour Papert's Logo movement and the emergence of Dan Meyer and his 37,000 followers on Twitter made on NCTM.

In 1986 at the annual meeting of NCTM in Washington DC, John Van de Walle organized an after hours meeting for attendees who were interested in Logo. According to my count there were about 125 educators in attendance. As a result an organization called the Council for Logo in Math Education (CLIME) was formed which eventually (in 1988) became an affiliate group of NCTM. Our hope was that Logo would enter the mainstream of math education and be promoted by NCTM. And, especially, NCTM would invite Seymour Papert to be a keynote speaker at an NCTM conference. The movement was a disappointment and Papert never spoke at an NCTM conference. There were many reasons but generally I would say that NCTM was not ready to support this disruptive innovation at that time that was focused mostly on computer use and was considered inappropriately technocentric.

A more recent “disruptive” activity is what Dan Meyer has brought to NCTM. Using the power of blogging Dan has become the pied piper of mathematics education reform. In Boston his sessions were filled to capacity and NCTM supported his after hours Shadowcon event. This is all good stuff. I’m all for it. I’m just disappointed that Logo didn’t get its due way back when.