Who is swinging the pendulum?

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="368" caption="Pendulum Painting: Tom Shannon"][/caption]

I was recently listening to a Rex Murphy Cross Country Check-up podcast (Canadian show with Canadian content, but I am sure people from other countries are having this exact same conversation) about mathematics education.  The question was; Is there something wrong with the way math is being taught in Canadian Schools?  It was mostly about the old way of doing math (rote, memorization, drills, practice) and the new way of doing (conceptual, big idea, hands on).

I don't want to get into that argument.

At one point in the show, a caller made the following comment (which was echoed by subsequent callers); education is pushing the pendulum into this direction, and parents need to start pushing it back the other way.

I have no doubt that there is indeed a pendulum like feeling in education (not getting into this now, but I think the pendulum is a very poor metaphor that we have gotten stuck in; it is not a shape that is conducive to knowing, learning, and teaching), but my question is this;

Is education pushing the pendulum?  Or, is society pushing the pendulum and education is scrambling to keep up?  Does that scrambling cause this negative feedback loop of pendulum swings to persist?  Who is swinging the pendulum?


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