
Re: Plausibility Arguments
Posted:
Mar 13, 1997 2:57 PM


I think Andre has raised some interesting, if not completely unproblematic, points. I'd suggest that one issue is how fully we should generalize from personal experience about what kids can know, should know, or want to know (each of these is a huge quagmire). As I observe students in middle and highschool math classes each week, I never cease to be amazed at the connections and (perhaps unknowingly) deep questions that emerge in classrooms full of "lowtrack" students. And I'm equally amazed at the hatred of mathematics, effort, learning, proof, giving plausible reasons, etc., that are present in classrooms at many points on the spectrum of difficulty. My sense is that there are important messages from both kinds of observations about what and how to teach mathematics. Responsibility for the lesssatisfactory attitudes our students display is not theirs alone, however (any more than it is their teachers' alone).
What we need more of, perhaps, is empathy and respect. David Hawkins speaks in his essay "I, Thou, and It" about the need for respect between students, between students and teachers, and between students and subject matter. Andre clearly had a great deal of respect for mathematical issues at an early age. Many of the students we teach don't. If we choose to disrespect them simply because they haven't learned the same things as we have and at the same points in development, I think we're unlikely to improve matters very much.

Michael Paul Goldenberg University of Michigan 310 E. Cross St. 4002 School of Education Ypsilanti, MI 48198 Ann Arbor, MI 481091259 (313) 4829585 (313) 7639683 email: mikegold@umich.edu


