Last week I was interviewed by Ihor Charischak for Math 2.0, a weekly webinar about math education and how it’s evolving (or not, as the case may be!) Ihor is an old friend and we framed the conversation using the stages of my own career and how math fit in. I’ve been a math geek, an electrical engineer and programmer in aerospace, a game designer and producer (educational and regular games), a parent, and now work with schools evangelizing a more student-centered, technology enhanced way to learn. All these experiences have shaped what I know and how I feel about math education.
I’m shocked at the trend that sees math as an endless series of skills, diced smaller and smaller into unrecognizable (but seemingly testable) nonsense. It’s a problem that many people only see arithmetic as math. I see too much vocabulary and not enough comprehension. I’m at a loss to understand why math is continually portrayed as not creative.
I’m becoming even more sure that we are doing damage to students when we teach them to narrowly find answers quickly and “the right way.” In the name of helping students “be confident with math skills” I think we are unwittingly teaching students to be less sure of themselves. I’m afraid that this math-phobia will have disastrous long-term consequences for students and society.
But like I said to Ihor, I can’t make any other choice than to be positive about the future of math education and work to expand and explain alternatives. This is where the kids are!
Ihor says in his blog CLIME Connections: Math 2.0 Linchpin Interview: Takeaways, “I had a fun time talking about the trials, tribulations and hopes for the future of math education with Sylvia Martinez last night.” I agree, it was fun, and we could have gone on for hours!
You can listen to the recorded session here. (This will launch the full Elluminate session with the recording, whiteboard, and chat window. Your browser may ask for permission to launch something!)