I found this picture and at first thought that it was cool.
Something about it kept bothering me though – it stayed on my mind. After I thought more about it, I realized what was bothering me…is this really what I wanted from my students? Do I want them to just “do” math? Or do I want them to understand the math? To make connections from the math? To be able to apply the math in new situations? Do I want to my students to question? To problem solve?
I know the answer to these questions. I want my students to do more than “Just do the math”. I want my students to do more than to mimic my steps in solving – I want them to be able to understand, apply, and justify while problem solving.
When I was meeting with a group of teachers recently, I discussed with them about the traits we would want our students to show in our math classes. These traits included:
- Flexible thinking
- Problem solving
- Learning from mistakes
- Making connections
- Verbalizing thoughts
And while I was discussing these traits, I made the observation – “Aren’t these the traits that our students/our children need to be successful in life?” So really aren’t we teaching our students to be successful in life – if we are teaching mathematics correctly in our classes? Math class is so much more than math class…or least it should be.
The struggle is how do we as math teachers do this – Now that we know this should be our goal and not the goal of teaching students just do the math.
Knowing that there is not just one answer because there is not just one student – I am looking forward to continuing my journey toward excellence in teaching math for all students.