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Math Education: What is the problem, and how do we fix it? July 5, 2013

Posted by stem4kidsinfo in Uncategorized.
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I recently returned from the Hillsdale College Summer Science camp.  The classes were phenomenal and I learned a lot, but the most interesting part of the trip for me personally was hearing the diverse range of opinions from the students hailing from all over the country.  While many agreed that Math education in its current form is failing, solutions ranged from “we need to start Algebra sooner, to devote more time to learning concepts and ideas over formulas” to “we need more drilling, starting in first + second grade, to build stronger fundamentals”.  Our TA, a recent grad of Hillsdale, had other ideas.  She believed that the problem was much more fundamental than that- teachers who don’t like math or don’t want to teach it- or both- are creating kids who don’t want to learn math.

Personally, although I do believe the math curriculum does need a good deal of revision (in favor of less repetition and a less rigid progression between topics), I find this take to be a very interesting one.  A good teacher, for me at least, has always been the difference between a boring math class and an excellent one.  Teachers who have a real passion for the subject are important in every field, but perhaps more so in math than anywhere else.  Teacher reeducation could very well be the beginning of a solution to our failing school system.  Of course, we don’t have enough teachers to begin with, and they are generally being paid too little… but that’s another story.

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