Effective teaching is a very essential in classrooms to ensure that students get the most out of the class. To achieved this, teachers need to adjust their instruction to cope with the different ability, development and academic achievement level of different students. One of the areas that has been challenged by ineffective teaching is the mathematics department. The level of performance of mathematics students has been declining over the years according to researching. Whats math got to do with it is an epic book that captures where mathematics teaching has gone wrong and how teachers, parents and students can work hand in hand to transform mathematics learning and inspire success.
It is interesting that the book defines mathematics as a human activity, a social phenomenon, a set of methods that is applied to illuminate and is part and parcel of our culture. I find this interesting because math is depicted to be more than a subject that is taught in class for the purpose of excelling in exams and attaining good grades. A deeper purpose of mathematics is unveiled in the definition; enlightening the world. Mathematics should not be viewed as just a subject but a social phenomenon and a cultural component. Knowledge being transitory is essential not only for the present but also for the future. Hence, mathematics is not only required in class but also in work and life in future. Most individuals adopt arbitrary methods, however, in solving life problems rather than applying the mathematics they learned in school.
The efficiency of mathematics teaching has been affected by math wars, a phenomenon that is said to have begun in California and has spread over the entire United States with time. In pursuit of their methods of teaching, the participants led to driving out of good teachers from the teaching profession due to their extreme bullying tactics. Furthermore, the mathematics teaching has been suppressed by math wars and the avenues of improvement have been blocked. I agree with the fact that the origin of math wars was due to lack of dialogue upon introduction of curriculum reforms in 1989 resulting in publishing of new math books and teachers being forced to change their methods of teaching to facilitation rather than lecturing. Learning is a process that involves different parties; the teacher, student, and the parent. Upon introduction of reforms, parents were not consulted which was a major issue that has led to decrease in mathematics performance.
A lot goes wrong in the classroom but three scenarios captured my attention; learning without though, learning without reality and learning without talk. When it comes to learning without thought, it is viewed by math war participants that there is a difference between traditional and reformed approaches of teaching math. However, come think of it the two are not quite different each having is one techniques, teaching, and teachers that are either highly effective or not. Secondly, there is learning without reality where the problems used in mathematics classes are quite ridiculous. It is essential to ensure that students understand that when handling such problems, they need to suspend reality and accepts the unpractical problems given in math classroom, otherwise they will fail. Thirdly, learning without talking mainly regards passive approaches to mathematics where students work in silence. To some this might seem as the best working condition but truthfully the approach is flawed by the fact that student need to talk through methods in order to know whether they fully comprehend them.
These issues addressed in the book provide an avenue for change and improvements. Teachers and parents really need to dialogue on a way forward to improve the learning experience and performance in mathematics.
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