## A flawed defense of fuzzy math

by Matthew W. Geherin

The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Letters

June 20, 2005

In his May
26 essay, Jeff Choppin makes an intellectually vacuous
contribution to the math education discussion. His central argument
in defense of fuzzy math may be summarized as follows: (1) Students
demonstrate competence in basic computation but (2) perform abysmally
in problem solving and conceptual understanding; therefore (3) we need
to change the way we teach basic computation. Such a flawed
formulation wouldn't get Mr. Choppin promoted to the sophomore class.

He offers further unsubstantiated assertions that the fuzzy math
curricula are doing exactly what they were designed to do. He would
be correct if the purpose of fuzzy math were to frustrate students,
marginalize parents and drive increased revenue to Kumon Learning
Centers and other private math tutors.

He considers that (1) "critics would argue that there is no systematic
evidence that students learn better with reform curricula." Yes, that
is true. However (2) "implicit in this statement is that there is
systematic evidence that students learn rigorous mathematics in
traditional classrooms." Well, no, (2) is not implied in (1). All
that can be implied in (1) is that critics are unpersuaded; and
Mr. Choppin says nothing appealing to a discerning mind. He does earn
high marks however for providing compelling systematic evidence that
fuzzy math inevitably leads to fuzzy logic.

MATTHEW W. GEHERIN

Penfield

For more about the Penfield, NY, Mathematics curriculum controversy
please visit Parents Concerned With
Penfield's Math Programs and see the NYC HOLD summary page Controversy over Mathematics in Penfield,
NY, Public Schools.

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