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Topic: Questions
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Posts: 75
Registered: 12/6/04
Posted: Nov 28, 1995 4:32 AM
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In reference to Ron's wonderful questions, I want to tackle the one
about teachers' understanding ("develop their knowledge of") of
the "discource of mathematics." Many of us (I'll bet it's most, butI was
taught to eschew the superlative) experienced mathematics as learning
formulas and procedures--memorizing them and then applying them in
basically artifical circumstances, or at least in neat, contrived "real"
situations which controlled for messiness. There was little, if
anything, to discuss, so discourse in mathematics is not something
many teachers experienced in their own mathematical learning.
To encourage discourse in the classroom, teachers must be
able to present problems or situations where a clear answer is not
readily available, or where more than one answer could be correct. They
must then create an atmosphere where students are willing to take risks and
are expected to justify and explain their thinking AND are expected to
think about and analyze the thinking of others. This won't happen in
places where mistakes are considered a difficulty to be avoided. Since
that's what's been modeled for them throughout their schooling, teachers
don't always know how to provide this safe environment or how to stimulate
the risk-taking. I think teachers need to be placed in safe environments
where they can take on problems which lend themselves to a variety of
solutions and/or strategies with others with whom they feel safe. Teachers
can learn to feel more comfortable with confusion on the part of their
students only when they tackle confusion themselves. It isn't pleasant
always, but it's crucial to learning. Sort of like the confusion of this
posting! Well, there's a thought in there somewhere. :-) Cindy

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