Well,
of course it’s not the problem, just one of many, but here it goes…

Somehow
along the way, people got the feeling that math is supposed to always be right,
and that math teachers are supposed to know all the answers.

Math
has gotten the reputation of being an authoritarian science. I don’t think this
is the fault of mathematicians, I think it is the fault of many math educators
who have tried to turn mathematics from an art and science into a “subject.”

Math
education is all too often about “standards” and “curricula” that students take
“tests” about that they are “graded” on.

If
Archimedes was to take a high-school math test today, he would be unfamiliar
with the jargon, and would find little value in the trite little
multiple-choice and partial credit nonsense that passes for assessment.

On
the other hand, he could run rings around the math teachers with his knowledge
of actual mathematics, and could twist their pedagogical dogma into moebius
bands.

Trying
to shove math into the education industry’s rubric is one of the worst
educational crimes I can think of. School math seldom has anything to do with
actual math, except for the very rare cases where an inspired person is doing
the teaching. And when that happens, that person is invariably in trouble with
the administration.

How
do you know if your school is doing a really good job?

Easy
- your school definitely is not doing a really good job. Even if the school
representatives like to trot out some meaningless statistics saying how well
their students score on this or that test.

The
tests show nothing whatsoever about the essence of math. They are created by
the same industry flunkies who sell the schools the textbooks and other
curriculum material. It is the foxes guarding the henhouses.

Show
me a school that can compete against the Russians and Chinese, and you might
have a case. But you can’t .

The
Germans have a great quote, which you will find yourself quoting frequently if
you understand it. It’s - “Never trust any statistics that you haven’t falsified
yourself.”

In
other words, the education industry can manipulate their statistics to seem to
“prove” anything it wants.

If
you truly understand mathematics, you can understand why those statistics are
worthless.

So
what does matter in math education?

Here’s
one thing that matters - Realize that education is not inculcation. It’s not
about getting children to jump through hoops that somebody in the state capital
thinks are important this week. It’s more about turning the mind on to enjoying
and investigating a subject, and fostering a thirst for learning.

A
Chinese acquaintance of mine said, “Curiosity is the best teacher.” I love that
quote.

If
you can get a child to be curious about a subject, all you then have to do is
point him or her to the library where they can find out more about the subject,
and they will learn more than all the textbooks in school closets have to
offer.

They
will also get more diverse input than from a “curriculum.” Curriculums, as far
as I can see, are designed as much to limit knowledge as to teach. Maybe more.

School
gives children the false sense that math is carved in stone, and all the
answers are there, you just have to know the formulae. It teaches them how to
answer questions that someone else has posed. It doesn’t teach them how to ask
questions.

Math
is about asking questions - asking how can you make and understand patterns of
the things in your world. When was the last time you ever even heard about a
teacher mentioning that in a classroom?

I’ll admit, it occasionally happens, but that is
in spite of curricula, not because of them.

++++++

__Curiosity ? ?__

*(Len Cooper)*

It is suggested that there are two
events that increase the activity of the

synapses in the brain.

**One is: Fear - Fight or flight**

**The other: Curiosity**

**How much curiosity are we encouraging in our maths classrooms?**

**Questions to Nurture Student’s Curiosity**
• Where did you start?

• How did you decide that?

• Can you try that another way?

• What happens if you take part of it
away?

• What would happen if. . .?

• Can you write about or tell me what
you did first? second?
third?

• What will you do next?

• Why do you think that happened?

• How would you describe what you saw
(read)?

• Can you think of another way to do
this?