Is Our Country Teaching Math the Wrong Way?

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I read an article at the end of last week that brought up the point that the US is considerably lacking in what is called "highly accomplished" math students. The scary trend, in my opinion, is how far behind the rest of the world American students are in math.  According to both the article and one of its sources, The HechingerEd blog, the reason our students aren't excelling in math, and in fact falling behind, is because of how we teach math. The examples given for this failure include forcing too much math on kids, not structuring the subject matter in a way where each lesson builds upon the last, and finally not employing teachers who are good at math. Seeing all these negatives made me realize how much American students have stacked against them when it comes to succeeding at math. It also reinforced my appreciation for our math teacher, Edward Burger.  Watch any of his videos on YouTube and you'll quickly see that not only is math his passion, but he also loves teaching math. It's contagious and why many folks love his videos.

You know there are other teachers out there that love math and teaching. Let's encourage these teachers to do their thing and not teach to a test. Instead of focusing on getting students to minimum standards, why don't we focus on teaching them to love math? Why can't we teach math concepts where each lesson builds on the previous one? The thought of going to a math class where the lessons jump around is intimidating even to me. Why would expect our children to succeed when even we couldn't if put into their places?

Lately there has been a lot of focus on how poorly our schools are teaching children and the fact that changes need to be made. Why don't we start with math? Math teaches critical thinking that is important to future success in learning. Let's overhaul how we approach math and that includes parents and the rest of us. We need to show students what math does for us, how it benefits us on a daily basis. We also need to not translate our negative feelings about math to our children and instead, excite them about this incredibly important skill. Math is the most intimidating subject for many students, and if we can get them excited about it the rest will follow.

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This page contains a single entry by April Stockwell published on November 17, 2010 11:10 AM.

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