Population × Bad curriculumMultiple generations= Functionally innumerate
Which is such a
true statement, that we don’t always think about. The adult population, of
American as well as Canada, has a generally bad experience with math. Not only
was it a boring subject in school, they were also told by their parents that it
is okay to hate math. I believe that
it is critical that we realize that as a society Americans don’t like math, as
future and current math teachers we need to foster an environment where it is
easy to like math. Though this article is about Canadian math education, I
think it applies to American math education as well. This article focuses on
three ways to make math more enjoyable and beneficial to society. The three
ways are: changing the curriculum to real-life problem solving situations,
making the material relevant, and boosting engagement.
first way, changing the curriculum, is currently being partially done for us. With
the common core standards going into effect students are seeing many more
problem solving style questions and being asked to explain their reasoning for
their work. In this way we are already addressing the first problem. The second
part of this, however, is to do problem solving in our classrooms. Whether it’s
projects, homework questions, or our lectures, we can incorporate problem
solving skills into our classroom.
second way is making the material relevant. To me this is the reason most
students begin to not like math, they are not shown any uses for it and cannot
find any themselves. A feeble application of mathematics is almost worse than
none at all because it is seen as a confirmation that there are no uses for
math; that the teacher is grasping at straws to come up with an application for
the math they are learning. Honestly some students will never use calculus or
trigonometry, but some students also won’t use poetry. It isn’t showing that
all math can be used by everyone, the important thing is showing that all math
has a use or purpose other than “it’s on the test”.
final way is boosting engagement, this ties in with making the material
relevant. By making the content relate to the students you greatly increase
their interest, and their desire to learn. Even little things, like using
students’ names in problems engage that student more. But bigger things, like
relating the material to their hobbies or making fun activities that use the
material, can have a huge effect on a student’s desire to learn. When a student
wants to learn, they can move mountains; when they do not want to learn you
cannot make them.
see these three things as highly important to us changing society’s view on
math, one student at a time. I would like to eventually have a society where it
isn’t okay to hate math the way that
it isn’t okay to hate English, the way that it isn’t okay to dislike grocery
stores. Many other teachers and I would like to have a culture where math is
just another tool in our tool belt that we can use to solve daily problems.
This is the change in society that I would like to see.