To tell you the truth, I don’t really have a problem with my state’s math standards (here and here). I do, however, have a serious problem when the standards become the target rather than the scope through which we aim at the target. So what’s the target? What should be the point of math education today? It has become very clear to me that it has never been easier to find correct answers to anything rooted in computation. With WolframAlpha, GeoGebra and all the other resources available, there probably isn’t a question we could ask a student where they couldn’t quickly look up an answer. When I first started teaching, the big question was whether or not we should let our algebra students use a calculator. A lot of the “veteran” teachers were dead set against it because they “gotta add, subtract, multiply and divide, for cryin’ out loud.” But the calculator would allow a student to speed up all the calculations (read arithmetic) and get to the “math.” Well can’t the same be said for WolframAlpha or GeoGebra? Don’t these tools give students access to certain problems where previously they would have been bogged down by calculations they couldn’t complete?
I remember when basic skills were being able to perform the four operations over the Real Number system. What’s a basic skill look like today? Is algebra the arithmetic of the 21st century?