For seven years I've watched my beautiful son hunched over Kumon math worksheets. He finds little enjoyment from them and I'd rather see him chasing butterflies. They've certainly helped his Math performance at school __ he's top of his class, but I wonder if the effort has been worth it in the big scheme of things. He's currently solving about 100 polynomials per day. Man, he can really solve polynomials, and fast. But for what?
Who's Fault? Is it his fault that he lacks confidence with word problems? Not entirely. Our actions, as educators, seem to imply a belief that solving word problems should come more naturally than simpler operations like arithmetic and algebra. Many parents and teachers feel justified in encouraging (i.e. forcing) a child to work hundreds or thousands of math worksheets, drill multiplication tables, long division... but few encourage solving hundreds of story problems. One suspects that the relative ease of creating and checking ordinary math worksheets keeps the focus of math education on simple, atomic operations at the expense of more holistic story problems.