Tag Archives: curricula

December 22, 2010, 12:00 pm

Misunderstanding mathematics

Plots of quadratic equations with discriminant...

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Robert Lewis, a professor at Fordham University, has published this essay entitled “Mathematics: The Most Misunderstood Subject”. The source of the general public’s misunderstandings of math, he writes, is:

…the notion that mathematics is about formulas and cranking out computations. It is the unconsciously held delusion that mathematics is a set of rules and formulas that have been worked out by God knows who for God knows why, and the student’s duty is to memorize all this stuff. Such students seem to feel that sometime in the future their boss will walk into the office and demand “Quick, what’s the quadratic formula?” Or, “Hurry, I need to know the derivative of 3x^2 – 6x +1.” There are no such employers.

Prof. Lewis goes on to describe some ways in which this central misconception is worked…

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November 29, 2007, 2:58 pm

If math were a color, it would probably be math-colored

The Everyday Math curriculum has been rejected in the state of Texas. I’ve blogged about Everyday Math and how it attempts to teach multiplication before. But I didn’t know that it had activities like this:

A. If math were a color, it would be –, because –.

B. If it were a food, it would be –, because –.

C. If it were weather, it would be –, because –.

I’m not sure exactly what the point of an exercise like this is — perhaps the curriculum is just trying very studiously not to get too deep into mathematics itself, thereby teaching math without the social stigma of being very enthusiastic about it. Or maybe the idea is to get kids to see math from a different point of view, as a sort of oblique path through math anxiety.

Either way, it’s the wrong approach. The only way to come to terms with math, conquer math anxiety, and appreciate (and learn) the subject is… to get good at …

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