A 21st-century upgrade of Westport’s math curriculum is spotlighted in today’s New York Times.
Reporter Winnie Hu describes the school district’s decision to boil each math course down to its essentials. The aims: develop deeper understanding of key topics, while eliminating the overlap and repetition typical of textbook-based curriculums.
One way to do that, Westport educators realized, is to do away with those books entirely. They’re being replaced by custom-designed online curriculums — written in Westport, then sent to HeyMath!, a company in India that adds graphics, animation and sound.
HeyMath!’s server in Singapore gives students 24/7 access to lessons, tutorials and homework assignments.
The Times story noted a few problems — HeyMath!’s word problems included “unpronounceable” children’s names like Trygve — but those pale beside the advantages: Students can log on any time. They learn visually, graphically, intuitively. The curriculum addresses the problem of “mile-wide, inch-deep instruction in the long-running (American) math wars.”
The Times includes a quote from a textbook supplier vice president. She does not believe Westport’s curriculum can maintain the same level of quality and consistency without published texts.
Which is probably the best argument of all for Westport’s 21st century upgrade.