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on Math Appeal
Thanks for addressing this topic. I'm the Director of Professional Development in Mathematics for an international not-for-profit company. (I formerly taught public school in Wilsonville, OR for 8 years). I travel all over the U.S. (and U.K. and Australia) working with teachers in grades pre-k through 12, helping them to better understand:
a. math content itself
b. how and when children develop mathematical concepts
c. the impact of teacher's pedagogical choices on how children learn math
Rather than focussing the country on a new collection of Common Core Standards, which, by the way, were NOT endorsed by many of the top educational researchers in the country, I would like to see us focus on developing standards for professional educators in the area of mathematics at ALL levels.
Many of the teachers of elementary age students whom I work with feel it is culturally acceptable to excuse themselves as being 'no good at math'. When I ask them if they would find it acceptable to hire a teacher who could only read at the third grade level, they begin to question the 'acceptableness' of their self-imposed labels, and we begin talk about our professional responsibility to work on those areas that we don't feel as confident.
Professor Deborah Lowenberg Ball at the University of Michigan is a leader in the area of identifying all the necessary components an effective teacher of mathematics needs. (Degrees or courses taken in college math are not indicators effective math teaching). The result of our current system of teacher preparation is that many teachers teach math the way they were taught mathematics which, in this country, has generally been a very superficial series of applying algorithms without understanding and memorization.
Mathematics leads to choices. As soon as students in the U.S. enter middle school, their schedule and access to classes is determined by their mathematical proficiency. What they study in Middle school will affect what classes they can take in High School, which in turn will determine their options for higher education. Not all children need to become professional mathematicians, but the should have the choice to choose.
I hope that my work with teachers will translate into students who feel like they have choices about their future, as well as releasing the unlocked potential of many would-be thinkers for our community.
posted 2 years, 7 months ago
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