First watch this video, right to the end.
I love the analogies Gordon uses to describe how we should reform elementary school mathematics. He also has an excellent argument against "real world" mathematics. What he prefers to use instead is "engaging" mathematics and I am happy to reform my own use of "real world" to "engaging" as it is a more inclusive term, and includes more mathematical ideas than the more simplistic real world focus. For more information on Gordon’s approach to mathematics, see http://www.mathpickle.com.
How can we make mathematics at all levels more engaging? Gordon suggests games, problems which are open ended and apply to a wide variety of learners, and abolishing our need for students to be "fast calculators" when computers can do this so much better.
What would you suggest?