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Topic: Edutopia
Replies: 2   Last Post: Jun 19, 1995 1:51 PM

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Michael South

Posts: 16
Registered: 12/6/04
Edutopia
Posted: Jun 16, 1995 10:17 PM
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Wouldn't it be an amazing world if no one ever forgot how fun learning
is? I can't remember who mentioned that about kids that already have the
joy of discovery knocked out of them, but it sure strikes a chord in
me. In a country that is so full of leisure time, imagine what armchair
mathematicians could contribute to the bank of knowledge if they weren't
just sitting there watching ESPN? They would have more fun, more self
worth, and be a greater benefit to society. One of the people I have
worked with on science education projects keeps emphasizing that when
we teach a person science, we give them an alternate way to look at the
world, more things to wonder about and be amazed by and have their life
enriched with. How does it get turned around to the point that learning
becomes an unwelcome burden? We are biological learners. Our brains are
designed for it. I guess it's the temptation to live with the least
effort....

As many people have pointed out, there is a need for some amount of
repetitive practice to gain the ability to do harder and more interesting
problems. Suppose we accept for the moment that over 50% of teaching
is psychology. How do we motivate this practice? Can it be done through
helping them see the big picture, or making "fun" math available after
the practice has been finished?

What do you use to demonstrate that the skills they can develop and the
things that they can learn/discover are worthwhile? Projects? Do they
need to see some result (other than a good grade) for their work? Will
it help or hinder to have competitions (which is a big motivator for
practice in sports)?

I am about to spend a lot of time working on these types of questions. How
would ye who teach and ye who teach about teaching suggest that I go about
finding out the answers? If you could dictate the job description of a
person that, say, was going to develop curriculum materials, what would
you require of them? How should they conduct their research?

Suppose
that a mathematician or mathematics teacher was promised funding for
two to three years and they could spend it however they wanted, with the
only requirement that at the end of the time period they had to demonstrate
that they had produced materials, software, curriculum ideas or whatever
that had a positive effect on mathematics education. What should they
do?

Say that the evaluation would be guided by the ideas in the NCTM standards,
so that there is a definite means of assessment.

What would you like to see in existance that doesn't yet exist? One thing
people have mentioned would be an online resource center for good real
world problems. I have saved most of those idea proposals. What else?
Do you think that well written software could be useful? Do you have
a "dream software package" that would combine useful elements from
various existing ones or that would be different altogether?

Within a few months I should be able to have room on some website
devoted to this type of information. If the consensus is that
these questions will put too much traffic into this list, it would
be fine if people just wanted to mail to me and have my interpretation
of a general representation of your ideas on a web page for everyone
on the list to have access to (not that I am wanting to filter and
shape the ideas, just an acknowledgement that every presentation reflects
some of the presenter).

My personal opinion is that it would be healthy and "on topic" for us to
talk about what _should_ exist, (using the Standards as the, um, standard)
since that would cause us to consider how the standards affect the
way we look at education.

Sorry this is so long. You would think I had a lot of time on my
hands.

Getting back to work on my thesis,

mike





Date Subject Author
6/16/95
Read Edutopia
Michael South
6/17/95
Read Re: Edutopia
Cathy Brady
6/19/95
Read Re: Edutopia
Anne Wheelock

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