teaching and learning are an old story. JohnDewey and others announced a revolution inpedagogy just as our century opened, butapparently it fizzled: Classrooms changedonly a little, researchers say (Cuban, 1984).The story goes on. Since the Sputnik era,many studies of instructional innovation haveembroidered these old themes of great ambitions and modest results (Gross, Giaquinta,& Bernstein,
Rowan & Guthrie, 1989;Cohen, 1989).Some analysts explain these dismal taleswith reference to teachers' resistance tochange: They argue that entrenched classroom habits defeat reform (Gross, Giaquinta, & Bernstein, 1971). Others reportthat many innovations fail because they arepoorly adapted to classrooms: Even teacherswho avidly desire change can do little withmost schemes to improve instruction, because they don't work
in classrooms (Cuban, 1984, 1986). Mrs. O's revolution looksparticularly appealing against this background. She eagerly embraced change,rather than resisting it. She found new ideasand materials that worked in her classroom,rather than resisting innovation. Mrs. O seesher
success for the new mathematicsframework. Though her revolution beganwhile the framework
itwas inspired by many of the same ideas. Shereports that her math teaching has wound upwhere the framework intends it to be.Yet as I watched and listened in Mrs. O'sclassroom, things seemed more complicated.Her teaching does reflect the new frameworkin manyways.For instance, she had adoptedinnovative instructional materials and activities, all designed to help students makesense of mathematics. But Mrs. O seemed totreat new mathematical topics as though theywere a part of traditional school mathemat
She used the new materials, but usedthem as though mathematics contained onlyright and wrong answers. She has revised thecurriculum to help students understandmath, but she conducts the class in ways thatdiscourage exploration of students' understanding.From the perspective of the new mathematics framework, then, Mrs. O's lessonsseem quite mixed. They contain some impor-312tant elements that the framework embraced,but they contain others that it branded asinadequate. In fact, her classes present anextraordinary melange of traditional andnovel approaches to math instruction.Something
Something NewThat melange is part of the fascination of Mrs.O's story. Some observers would agreethat she has made a revolution, but otherswould see only traditional instruction. It iseasy to imagine long arguments about whichis the real Mrs. O, but they would be thewrong arguments. Mrs. O. is both of theseteachers. Her classroom deserves attentionpartly because such mixtures are quite common in instructional innovations—thoughthey have been little noticed. As teachers andstudents try to find their way from familiarpractices to new ones, they cobble new ideasonto familiar practices. The variety of theseblends and teachers' ingenuity in fashioningthem are remarkable, but they raise unsettling questions. Can we say that an innovation has made such progress when it is tangled in combination with many traditionalpractices? Changes that seem large toteachers who are in the midst of struggles toaccommodate new ideas often seem modestor invisible to observers who scan practice forevidence that new policies have been implemented. How does one judge innovative progress? Should we consider changes inteachers' work from the perspective of newpolicies like the framework? Or should theybe considered from the teachers' vantagepoint?
From one angle, the curriculum and instructional materials in this class were just whatthe new framework ordered. For instance,Mrs.O regularly asked her second graders towork on "number sentences." In one classthat I observed, students had done the problem: 10 + 4 = 14. Mrs. O then asked themto generate additional number sentencesabout 14. They volunteered various ways towrite addition problems about fourteen—that is, 10 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 = 14, 5 +5 + 4 = 14, and so forth. Some studentsproposed several ways to write subtraction