GS Chandy
Posts:
7,043
From:
Hyderabad, Mumbai/Bangalore, India
Registered:
9/29/05


Re: Why do so many of us hate math?
Posted:
Jun 29, 2014 1:31 PM


Robert Hansen (RH) posted Jun 29, 2014 9:46 AM (http://mathforum.org/kb/message.jspa?messageID=9505866)  GSC's remarks follow: > > On Jun 28, 2014, at 2:29 PM, GS Chandy > <chandy.sag@gmail.com> wrote: > > > (GSC): I see. Are you now claiming that Joe N. got > > the > > title of this thread is wrong, that it should > > correctly > > be "Why do so many of us hate math lessons?" ?? > > (RH): I think if you read back in the thread, Joe even > hinted that it is the lessons the students hate, not > the subject itself. I think it is an important > distinction because I have seen many attempts where > the teacher focuses on making math more likable when > it is the lessons that we need to make more likable. > For example, replacing the lessons with busy work is > done to make math more likable but does nothing to > make the students better at math. > Well, I'd generally agree that it is the 'math lessons' we need to make 'more enjoyable': 'math' is what it is; what the teacher can work with is his/her math lessons. (*See Note).
However, rather than just merely "more enjoyable", we should think in terms of making those lessons "more meaningful".
This, in general, would generally require a pretty high degree of interactive work of the teacher with his/her students to enable the teacher to find out just how to make things 'more meaningful' (and not to just leave it as 'more enjoyable'). Simple 'clowning around' may well make the lesson 'more enjoyable'  ensuring the math lessons are truly meaningful will demand a different kind of effort from the teacher.
Underlying it all, the idea is to try and ensure that, over the years of schooling, the student is not left with a 'fear and/or loathing' of math  which is the case all too often today.
(I have previously often argued that 'teaching' should NEVER be regarded as a 'thinginitself' which was the general culture in the 'traditional system' (though many individual teachers did manage to transcend that deadening culture: they did [and still do, I'm sure] manage to understand the 'Silver Dyad' of 'learning + teaching'  and how to develop their teaching practice from that dyad).
The ONLY 'right approach'  and some teachers have managed to find it pretty successfully  would, I believe, involve showing the students something about the real beauty and power of math  along with its practical utility in the students' own real lives in a great many ways. (Yes, this does involve a good bit of intellectual effort on the part of the teacher: which effort would pay for itself many, MANY times over in terms of what the students get out of those math lessons  and what the teacher him/herself does also).
There is plenty of stuff available that could help quite significantly  but the 'teaching' in doing this kind of thing is a whole new ballgame.
By the way, ALL of the above (and the note below) would become almost instantly evident when we use what I call 'prose + structural graphics' (p+sg) to discuss the issues within these complex systems. I'm pretty sure that this prose explanation will NEVER serve to drive home the underlying meaning of my case  even if I were to extend it to 100 or more pages of perfect prose! (If we were actually using 'p+sg' to discuss these issues, a simple systems model involving some 1530 'elements' would get the whole story across very effectively indeed: of course, this would demand that we are actually using 'p+sg' to discuss and think about the issues involved). [The "PRECEDENCE" relationship does not cut the cake at all in the meanngful discussion of complex systems].
*Note: Making the math lessons "more enjoyable" may well become just "more entertaining", which could just tend to drive it towards mere "entertainment", which I don't believe is really desirable at all. (In fact, I believe this is a critique I believe you and other critics of the 'reformist movement often made about 'math teaching reform': but please to observe that this is a critique that cannot fairly be made of the 'Montessori approach'). It's a fine distinction that every teacher does need to keep in mind when the he/she strives to make the math lesson "more enjoyable".
GSC
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