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Topic: Re: Better Mathematics Teachers
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Ed Wall

Posts: 36
Registered: 12/3/04
Re: Better Mathematics Teachers
Posted: Jul 22, 1995 8:46 PM
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>Dear Colleagues,

stuff omitted

>I love mathematics. I love working out problems
>that I find in the MAA journals, in Quantum, etc.
>I find these stimulating exercises. What is
>important, too, is that my students see that
>I enjoy doing such. My modeling of my love
>and appreciation of mathematics are essential
>to generating such in my students. I suggest
>all teachers, K- whatever, need to also model
>their love and appreciation of mathematics.
>That's my $.02.
>Karen Dee

Now here is a post that really says a lot about qualifications for teachers.
Years ago I took a math course at a local university. It was said the school
had three great math professors. The first could give the most elegant and
shortest proof of any theorem; the second could prove any theorem at least
three different ways; the last could teach math in a way that anyone could
understand it. At that time I thought of these attributes as either/or, but
over the years I began to think they all had a place and a time.

The first two (IMHO) have to do with acquisition of knwledge and, I believe,
experience; however, the last has much to do with technique (and psycholgy or
empathy). BUT, amusingly, it has been my experience all pale before
enthusiam. Students seem to be fascinated (at least at the junior high and
high school) by who you are as a person. If you are enthusastic about math,
it is hard for them to stay neutral. Time and time again returning students
have remarked on my personal characteristics (yes, they also sometimes thank
me for what they have learned :)). I sometimes feel that modeling my
understanding and love of mathematics is more important than the specific
knowledge imparted.

To this end I invite local professional mathematicans to my class to 'share'
with students, I require some written research into the lives and works
of famous female and male mathematicans, and show a few videos featuring
current expectional mathematics personalities.

Yes, I understand that there possibily is a portion of the population that
will always hate math, think it of little use, and be bored by me. However, I
have yet to teach such students (I have met people who I bore :)). If I can
be positive, usually they are (one reason I like junior high). And I have
taught 'hard-core' high school remedial thru 'gifted and talented'.

Perhaps a Masters in 'Sense of Humor', 'Patience', and 'Enthusiam' should
be required for all mathematics educators.

Ed Wall

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