Mathemagicians Unite!

I am not a math teacher.  However, I do believe strongly in the value of mathematics as part of our academic programs in schools.  I also think that there has to be a way to do it better than it is being done in so many places.  I remember being bored to tears by the repetitive nature of one problem after another.  Much like Donald Duck in this 1959 classic by Disney:

As we prepare to shift paradigms to a 21st Century pedagogy, how can we be certain that the math classes don’t fall by the wayside?  It seem to me that they are the most likely candidates to do so, if only because the rote nature of the instructional approaches taken for so long still proliferate, even as a new generation of amazing math educators arises.  What can be done to make math more aligned with the Cycle of Learning model that I have advocated (Discovery-Expression-Collaboration-Integration)?  How can we find a way to advocate 21st Century skills in a discipline where far too many think that calculators are evil?  Torie Bosch writes for Slate and takes a stab at it here:

Math education: How colleges and high schools can fix it..

One of the primary problems with math education today, according to Benjamin, is that the sequence of courses leads students in the wrong direction. “For the last 200 years, the mathematics that we’ve learned starts with arithmetic and algebra, and everything we do after that is taking us toward one subject, calculus. I think that is the wrong mathematical goal for 90 percent of our students,” he says. “We’re now living in an age of information and data, and the mathematics that will be most relevant to our daily lives is probability and statistics.” Only some professions require calculus. Everyone reads—and many misunderstand—media reports about health, science, and the environment that contain statistics. Better literacy in probability and stats would benefit everyone.

I think Bosch manages to identify our central fallacy very well – that one size fits all!  How can we realistically expect all students to fit into the same track?  Surely there must be a way to differentiate our experience of mathematics at the high school level.  Are probability and statistics part of the solution?  Is there an experiential model that work out there?  Math teachers – help me out!  How can we make the “language of technology” actually gel with the innovations that they helped create in the first place?


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