MemberMay 31, 2019 at 12:09 pm
I totally get where you are coming from. It is challenging to teach the more abstract concepts in a way that seems useful to students. I think what this “math reform movement” can accomplish is giving students ways to see and use the math concepts we are teaching them. When taught as a series of rules and algorithms that need to be memorized and then repeated, there is little room for seeing the “why” these algorithms work, or the “how” these concepts can be applied. I agree with Cartin’s point that math is very useful because it explains the world around us. Personally, in the short time I’ve been working on changing the way I teach math, I’ve discovered more uses for the math I teach that I have in my previous 12 years of teaching. Even as a math teacher with over 10 years of experience, I feel like I understand math better now than I ever have, because I’m learning to look for math in different areas and think about how math can help describe or explain what is happening. Almost everything that is happening around us can be explained mathematically in some way, but this is not how most students see math. I think our job is to help students see the way that math gives us models that we can use to describe things that are happening around us, not a set of procedures to follow to get answers on worksheets. Easier said than done!!