Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Why do some kids hate math? Just as a thought experiment, if I surveyed all secondary school students, asking them what subject they would most like to cut if given a free pass, what would it be? I am guessing the majority would choose Math. I wonder, does this concern all secondary math teachers? I don't mean to dump on these fine professionals. They love kids, love teaching and are highly skilled at what they do. But the fact remains. What can be done? The fact that most kids find math to be an unattractive subject suggests to me that the environment is at fault. Jerry Mortensen used to make the point that kids learn a foreign language by the age of three without the aid of a university-trained tutor or any formal instruction, why? because they lived in a language-rich environment - adults talking, TV, songs with lyrics, Alphagetti. Can we create a math-rich environment? What would that look like? Posters on the walls of Einstein, Archimedes, Pythagoras, Emma Noether, Ramanujan perhaps. Mobiles of geodesics & other polyhedrons, colourful manipulatives available to play with & build stuff. Math cookies? Skip-counting songs - rap, lullabies, fugues - if you use 'em as teaching tools? People learn using all their senses. What environment would a truly great math teacher create for her students? What would you say if the kids told you they didn't want to go out for recess, they wanted to stay in and play some more math? It happens, guess where. More at: http://www.geoffwhite.ws/math-rich.html

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