Search All of the Math Forum:
Views expressed in these public forums are not endorsed by
NCTM or The Math Forum.



Re: Poor Dan (but much poorer Robert)
Posted:
Dec 12, 2013 6:09 AM


On Dec 11, 2013, at 9:45 PM, GS Chandy <gs_chandy@yahoo.com> wrote:
> It does seem, as Lou Talman suggests, that Robert Hansen (RH) "... doesn't like Dan and he reflexively rejects > anything Dan says (even when Dan says something worthwhile)?.
This is what Dan said?
http://blog.mrmeyer.com/?p=18278
  "Pick any application of math to the job world and I promise you I can come up with 50 math problems about that application that students will hate. Get a little coffee in me and I'll crank out 49 more. It's that one problem, the one out of 100 that students might enjoy, that's really tricky to create, and often times its "real world"ness is its least important aspect.?
"Chris Hunter reminds me (via email) that the British Columbia Institute of Technology has made a similar bet on "realworld" math. Here's an example:?
{moment of inertia problem}
Once again, we're asking students to substitute given information for given variables and evaluate them in a given formula. Does anyone want to make the case that our unengaged students will find the nod to structural engineering persuasive?
The "real world" isn't a guarantee of student engagement. Place your bet, instead, on cultivating a student's capacity to puzzle and unpuzzle herself. Whether she ends up a poet or a software engineer (and who knows, really) she'll be wellserved by that capacity as an adult and engaged in its pursuit as a child.  
That seems to state pretty clearly that Dan and his followers have decided that math as we know it and use it is too boring. This shouldn?t be news, he has specifically stated this before. And he has chronicled in some detail the angst his students have with math, that he has with math, that he probably always has had with math, and that this select group of followers have had with math. That is the common denominator here, they are all disengaged.
Note also, that he, and his followers, misread the problem. This is not a ?plug and chug? problem, it is an algebra problem. And they do this every time they stumble upon algebra. They have a very weak connection to mathematics. And that is putting it nicely.
This isn?t about Dan, it is about what happens when math teachers are in way over their heads. It isn?t just the students that are grappling with the math, and who we expect to grapple with the math, it is the teachers themselves who are grappling with the math. When they say ?My students are bored? or ?My students don?t get what this is for?, these are the teachers? own personal feelings as well. I have been doing this long enough to tell the difference between when the teacher gets it but the students don?t versus when both the teacher and the students don?t get it. When they speak out against problems like this one and call it disengaging, they are not speaking for their students, they are speaking for themselves! Need we wonder why they can?t get their students engaged in mathematics? How do you engage students in a subject that you can?t even feel yourself?
I pick on this group because it is an example of when everything goes wrong in a math class. Disengaged and disconnected teachers teaching disengaged and disconnected students. It doesn?t get worse than this (that is my good news). What is unique in this case is that Dan has brought these teachers together to revel in their angst, their inability to connect with mathematics, and their personal disengagement and literally abandon their students? possible future in this subject. A festivus of failure and disengagement.
Let me put it this way?
A real teacher, when presented with this moment of inertia problem and a not so enthusiastic group of students would start off with ?Ok class, we can do this!?
Dan and his group basically said, f*** this.
They need a wakeup call from this orgy of failure and get back to their students? possible future in this subject.
Or find another profession.
Bob Hansen



