Fashion Show

Kevin Drum has three posts up on his Political Animal blog taking down Diane Ravitch's Wall Street Journal Op-Ed take down of "Ethnomathematics," which is apparently some new conservative bugaboo, if more or less invisible in schools. Ravitch made the mistake of actually including a couple of specifics in her piece, based on some sloppy scholarship by some Hoover Institute propagandists, and which Kevin was able to show was total crap.

This was cool, of course, but even more interesting was the discussion of education, algebra books, and math teaching that followed in the comments. One thread was the size, cost and general bloat of textbooks, even those for elementary students. Another was the ever changing fads that sweep education.

Education, in the US at least, is a fashion industry. Textbook publishers and their co-conspirators, the education colleges, are always looking for a new gimmick to make the old books (and other media) obsolete. This is actually a bad idea, but I'm not sure how to combat it, short of national education standards.

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