>>>This is worrying. It means that somehow we (meaning the collective >>>community of everyone who has taught K-16 mathematics in this country >>>since, say, 1880) have managed to communicate that mathematics is extremely >>>narrow. It also means that those of us in the trenches feel pressure to >>>justify what is done in school mathematics by that narrow definition. How >>>can we get out of this bind? >>>------------------------------------------------------------------ >>Judy I think you are approaching this from the wrong angle. We have an >>obligation to justify what we do in terms that are understandable by all of >>those concerned, not just those with degrees in math. I'm not sure that >>means that we have to narrow what we do - just improve the communication. >> >>Andy
>Right. But the bind is that some things are very difficult to put in an >overly restrictive language -- and the language that most people are >willing to accept as mathematical *is* overly restrictive. When you go >outside it, they say "but that isn't mathematics!" > >Cheers. > Judy I still don't think you see the point. I had to think about this one for quite some time before I realized what bothered me. I think it may be that we are looking at the problem of communication from two vastly different perspectives. Mine is of a teacher that must communicate daily with students and parents who are asking "But why do we have to learn this stuff?" Judy I'd better be able to answer that question in a way that they understand or: a) I'll have a student who is less than motivated, (maybe short term Gee Whiz motivation but that will peter out when understanding becomes difficult), and b) Parents will wonder what the heck I am doing and why, (and why the principal lets me do it!)
I think that saying that the language to communicate is not there is a cop out, (Oh-Oh now I've really ticked her off!) As educators it is our job to make it understandable. If what we are doing is important enough to teach then it sure must be important enough to explain.
This is a tender area for us in B.C. because we will be responsible for teaching a new NCTM Standard-esque K-7 curriculum next year. Some of the changes are going to be difficult for 3R-type parents to swallow. As teachers we had better be able to justify the changes in an understandable and sensible way or the launch of our wonderful new curriculum will be as successful and meaningful as the launch of that great ship the Titanic.
Saying, "I know why I'm teaching these things but I can't explain it to you because you are incapable of understanding it, so you'll just have to trust me," won't cut it.
Andy :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: A. Karassowitsch Learning Assistance Teacher R.L. Angus Elementary School District #81 - Fort Nelson, BC Canada <firstname.lastname@example.org>