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Links With Your Coffee - Monday

Coffee Cup - A Better Way to Teach Math

Is it possible to eliminate the bell curve in math class?

Imagine if someone at a dinner party casually announced, "I'm illiterate." It would never happen, of course; the shame would be too great. But it's not unusual to hear a successful adult say, "I can't do math." That's because we think of math ability as something we're born with, as if there's a "math gene" that you either inherit or you don't.

School experiences appear to bear this out. In every math class I've taken, there have been slow kids, average kids and whiz kids. It never occurred to me that this hierarchy might be avoidable. No doubt, math comes more easily to some people than to others. But the question is: Can we improve the methods we use to teach math in schools -- so that everyone develops proficiency?


 

Comments

Cool math articles. Thanks.

I've been tutoring math students from grade school level to college level for nearly twenty years. For free. I have yet to fail to get the student the credit they needed. I do not believe in teacher bashing but I will risk this generalization about math teachers: they inevitably come from that select group of students to whom math comes easily. They often attribute the failure of their students to inattention and laziness or even just stupidity when such is seldom the case. Admittedly they have not the time or the resources to ferret out each students particular problems but I can assure you there are many different ones which, if you take the time to find, can be overcome.

I used to tutor student who were "bad" at math. Here's the problem each one of them had: poor self esteem when it came to math.* All of them were capable of solving complex problems if the Q and A was thoughtful and worded well. True, some of them would solve a problem, then be presented with a similar problem and put up yet another mental block, but eventually they could understand what to do.

In 7th grade I had a math teacher who really interested in the kids that would go on to advanced math in 8th grade, so she spent her time helping them while the rest of us floundered. Luckily for me, my 8th grade math teacher was fabulous! She's probably retired now, but for the 1970's, she was something of an anomaly: A southern, black woman who was good at doing and teaching math. Not that African American females are bad at math - they aren't - but society said otherwise at the time.

*The article touches on this somewhat, and I haven't had time to finish reading it. My busy schedule is but a digressions, as is coming to this blog.

Speaking of girls and math: remember this classic bit of wisdom?

Lolcalligraph. What ever happened to him? I'd forgotten about his trollish ways.

Also wonder about the others there.

for calligraph: sir, from days gone by, if you had only lit into NCLB and not rising math scores for women and a stupid rant, you might have raised your credibilty. whatever!

It would be nice to see Jill and Dzwonka back. Mat Scheckt pokes his nose in once and awhile; I'm guessing he reads but doesn't always respond.

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