My 2012 was the Year of Math. I had the pleasure of working with many CUNY math professors and other math-related people, who are so passionate about math and math education. Thank you, Math Blog authors, for your wonderful contributions. Thank you, Math Blog readers, for your direct and indirect comments and thoughts. Thank you, all the professors I have and haven’t met, for being so brilliant and nice (and at times funny and quirky). Thank you, great math-popularizing authors including Steven Strogatz. “The Joy of x” is the first e-book I ever purchased, and I love it. And thank you, MoMath, which I haven’t visited yet. My next post will probably be a MoMath visit report!
So, New Year’s. This is my 13th in the States but I’m still not used to the idea or practice of having to start to work on January 2nd. The ever-hardworking Japanese are allowed to be lazy (or so we feel) only during the first three days of the year. And my seasonally lazy Japanese self says: Hey, it’s New Year’s. Stop working and celebrate. Celebrate others’ work.
I surrendered and decided to introduce the following quotes regarding (math) education that I encountered fairly recently. This one is by David McCullough.
“We need to revamp, seriously revamp the teaching of the teachers. I don’t feel that any professional teacher should major in education. They should major in a subject. Know something. The best teachers are those who have the gift, and the energy, and the enthusiasm, to convey their love for science or history or Shakespeare or whatever it is. Show them what you love is the old attitude. We’ve all had them, where they can change your life, they can electrify the morning when they come into the classroom.” (60 Minutes aired on November 11, 2012)
He starts talking about education at the 8:45 mark. Whether or not you agree on his view on teachers, you may find the entire segment delightful.
The following are from “Adventures in teaching: A professor goes to high school to learn about teaching math” by Darryl Yong (Notices of the American Mathematical Society, 2012, Volume 59, Number 10).
“I have won teaching awards at the institutions where I’ve worked, but I intentionally held low expectations for my effectiveness as a high school teacher. Even so, I felt depressingly ineffective as a teacher most of that year. While it’s not wise to generalize from a single case, my experience shows that having strong content knowledge in one’s field is a necessary but insufficient condition for student learning to take place.” (p. 1410)
“I learned that, regardless of how “tough” some students are or how weak their math skills are, teenagers still love feeling successful when they become good at something or when they figure something out… I found that 95 percent of the cases when one of my students was disruptive or seemed disinterested in learning were the result of the student not understanding what to do or how to do something.” (p. 1411-1412)
“I initially spent a great deal of time thinking of fun or creative lessons that would get students excited. These lessons rarely worked because they were often too complicated or inappropriate for my students’ mathematics development. Instead, I began to design my lessons and accompanying student work so that (1) all of my students could successfully complete the first problem or task independently, and in which (2) the sequence of problems/tasks matched my students’ tolerance for challenge and self-concept. This strategy not only increased student learning but also eliminated most of the discipline issues in my class and relieved the pressure of having to develop whiz-band “fun” lessons every day.” (p. 1412)
This great article was introduced to me by Professor Hunter Johnson, who is also a Math Blog author. This program of Visiting Faculty Permit in California sounds just so valuable. Does anyone know whether New York has something similar?