Integrated Curriculum:
A Driving Force in 21st-Century Mathematics Education

By Judy Spicer, ENC Instructional Resources

In encFocus, Volume 8, Number 4, 2001

ABSTRACT (beginning of the article):
An integrated high school mathematics curriculum offers an approach to teaching and learning that is vastly different from the compartmentalized mathematics curriculum (arithmetic, algebra, geometry, more algebra, and precalculus-calculus) commonly found in U.S. classrooms. The idea is not new. Major national education groups have issued reports--from the 1893 Committee of Ten Report to NCTM's April 2000 Principles and Standards for School Mathematics (PSSM)--that have encouraged greater integration of these subjects. Textbooks that integrate mathematics have been around since the 1920s (NCTM Yearbook, 2000, p. 2). Support for an integrated curriculum is strong among leaders in mathematics education.

The controversy comes not from theory but from practice. The arguments began in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded several major projects to provide models for integrated mathematics curricula. Implementation of these integrated curricula raised objections from those to whom the traditional curriculum was sacrosanct. Disagreement about the integrated curriculum became interwoven with other controversial issues such as cooperative learning, the use of technology, alternative assessments, and the teacher-as-a-guide model of teaching. Thus, the integrated curricula became a focus point of what came to be known as the math wars.

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