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Who Says Math Has to Be Boring? | Editorial | NYTimes.com

Who Says Math Has to Be Boring? | Editorial | NYTimes.com | Making Math Meaningful | Scoop.it

American students are bored by math, science and engineering. They buy smartphones and tablets by the millions but don’t pursue the skills necessary to build them. Engineers and physicists are often portrayed as clueless geeks on television, and despite the high pay and the importance of such jobs to the country’s future, the vast majority of high school graduates don’t want to go after them.

 

Nearly 90 percent of high school graduates say they’re not interested in a career or a college major involving science, technology, engineering or math, known collectively as STEM, according to a survey of more than a million students who take the ACT test. The number of students who want to pursue engineering or computer science jobs is actually falling, precipitously, at just the moment when the need for those workers is soaring. (Within five years, there will be 2.4 million STEM job openings.)

 

One of the biggest reasons for that lack of interest is that students have been turned off to the subjects as they move from kindergarten to high school. Many are being taught by teachers who have no particular expertise in the subjects. They are following outdated curriculums and textbooks. They become convinced they’re “no good at math,” that math and science are only for nerds, and fall behind.

 

That’s because the American system of teaching these subjects is broken. For all the reform campaigns over the years, most schools continue to teach math and science in an off-putting way that appeals only to the most fervent students. The mathematical sequence has changed little since the Sputnik era: arithmetic, pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, trigonometry and, for only 17 percent of students, calculus. Science is generally limited to the familiar trinity of biology, chemistry, physics and, occasionally, earth science.

 

These pathways, as one report from the National Academy of Education put it, assume that high school students will continue to study science and math in college. But fewer than 13 percent do, usually the most well-prepared and persistent students, who often come from families where encouragement and enrichment are fundamental. The system is alienating and is leaving behind millions of other students, almost all of whom could benefit from real-world problem solving rather than traditional drills.

 

Click headline to read more and watch video clip--


Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc
Allison Pawlowski's insight:

The article mentions that the math curriculum has barely changed over the past 60 years, which is what has created the sense of meaninglessness that leads to boredom.  In my student interest surveys the majority of my students (12 out of 16 interviewed) said that they did not use math outside of school, and that math was not important in the real world.  The attitudes toward math that are common among students of all ages are why we need to make math meaningful again.  The best way to do that is by relating what we learn in math to a real-life example that will interest our students.

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Rescooped by Allison Pawlowski from Digital Media Literacy + Cyber Arts + Performance Centers Connected to Fiber Networks
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Who Says Math Has to Be Boring? | Editorial | NYTimes.com

Who Says Math Has to Be Boring? | Editorial | NYTimes.com | Making Math Meaningful | Scoop.it

American students are bored by math, science and engineering. They buy smartphones and tablets by the millions but don’t pursue the skills necessary to build them. Engineers and physicists are often portrayed as clueless geeks on television, and despite the high pay and the importance of such jobs to the country’s future, the vast majority of high school graduates don’t want to go after them.

 

Nearly 90 percent of high school graduates say they’re not interested in a career or a college major involving science, technology, engineering or math, known collectively as STEM, according to a survey of more than a million students who take the ACT test. The number of students who want to pursue engineering or computer science jobs is actually falling, precipitously, at just the moment when the need for those workers is soaring. (Within five years, there will be 2.4 million STEM job openings.)

 

One of the biggest reasons for that lack of interest is that students have been turned off to the subjects as they move from kindergarten to high school. Many are being taught by teachers who have no particular expertise in the subjects. They are following outdated curriculums and textbooks. They become convinced they’re “no good at math,” that math and science are only for nerds, and fall behind.

 

That’s because the American system of teaching these subjects is broken. For all the reform campaigns over the years, most schools continue to teach math and science in an off-putting way that appeals only to the most fervent students. The mathematical sequence has changed little since the Sputnik era: arithmetic, pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, trigonometry and, for only 17 percent of students, calculus. Science is generally limited to the familiar trinity of biology, chemistry, physics and, occasionally, earth science.

 

These pathways, as one report from the National Academy of Education put it, assume that high school students will continue to study science and math in college. But fewer than 13 percent do, usually the most well-prepared and persistent students, who often come from families where encouragement and enrichment are fundamental. The system is alienating and is leaving behind millions of other students, almost all of whom could benefit from real-world problem solving rather than traditional drills.

 

Click headline to read more and watch video clip--


Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc
Allison Pawlowski's insight:

The article mentions that the math curriculum has barely changed over the past 60 years, which is what has created the sense of meaninglessness that leads to boredom.  In my student interest surveys the majority of my students (12 out of 16 interviewed) said that they did not use math outside of school, and that math was not important in the real world.  The attitudes toward math that are common among students of all ages are why we need to make math meaningful again.  The best way to do that is by relating what we learn in math to a real-life example that will interest our students.

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Problem Solving in the Common Core

Allison Pawlowski's insight:

The Common Core demonstrates the shift in mathematics teaching that is sweeping the nation.  Common Core testing comes with an emphasis on word problems, multi-step problems, and problems that relate to real world contexts.  The only way our students will understand these problems is if they are incorporated into everyday math instruction.

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Conrad Wolfram: Teaching kids real math with computers | Video on TED.com

From rockets to stock markets, many of humanity's most thrilling creations are powered by math. So why do kids lose interest in it?
Allison Pawlowski's insight:

We spend years teaching students how to compute by hand.  And from the beginning these calculations are given no real-life context that students can make sense of.  Therefore we should start with the problem, then adapt a mathematical solution that can solve this problem.  But most importantly, students should be allowed to use computers and calculators.  Conrad Wolfram discusses the difference between studying the basics in math, with computing by hand.  Making math meaningful means teaching math the way that it is used in the real world-- which is on computers, not by hand.

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How To Make Math Meaningful

Edutopia.org's Director of Video Programming, Zachary Fink, interviews UC Berkeley professor Dor Abrahamson about how to increase students' understanding of ...
Allison Pawlowski's insight:

This video talks about how math is about solving problems, which is why math instruction starting at the elementary level needs to teach students how to solve everyday problems they encounter in their real life.

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Education World: Connecting to Math in Real Life

Education World: Connecting to Math in Real Life | Making Math Meaningful | Scoop.it
Resources for connecting Math class to the real world.
Allison Pawlowski's insight:

Making that real world connection is what keeps students engaged in math lessons.  As I noticed in my own classroom, students seem to think that the only time they use math outside the classroom is when using money.  They do not see math as a way to solve problems.  Education World had some great examples of activities that use real life contexts, as well as great online resources for students to use.  Whenever my students practice math in the computer lab it is by answering a computation problem on Math IXL.  Instead, I want my students to see themselves as problem solves where math is the tool they use to solve real world issues.

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Making Math Meaningful with Online Games and Videos

Making Math Meaningful with Online Games and Videos | Making Math Meaningful | Scoop.it
By Almetria Vaba Math can be made meaningful when connected to students’ experiences. With video clips and interactive games from public media students pra
Allison Pawlowski's insight:

Here are some great acitivites that will make math more meaningful to students.  Incoorporating technology is an easy way to interest your students, and make connections between math and what they do at home.  Video games bridge the gap between school and home, and make math fun to practice.

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Teaching Maths with Meaning: Maths Displays

Teaching Maths with Meaning: Maths Displays | Making Math Meaningful | Scoop.it
Allison Pawlowski's insight:

Don't hide your math activities!  Help students realize how fun math can be by displaying your student work.  Make them proud of what they acheive.  I've noticed in my own classroom that we search for the rare art project that can be hung on the walls.  We have had ELA, social studies, many art, and science projects on our walls-- but never math.  This only adds to our students' opinions that math is boring.  Make a graph, hang your height, count with color-- math is filled with fun activities that can cheer up a classroom and display student learning.

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Teaching Elementary Students the Magic of Math

An Oregon elementary school has improved test scores by integrating math across all subject areas and focusing on teacher training. For more about this schoo...
Allison Pawlowski's insight:

I love this idea of using math to make connections between every subject.  In our classroom math is always it's own subject, and my teacher struggles to put it into a real world context.  The Granger school uses real-world contexts to show how math can be used in real life to answer questions and solve problems.  Most importantly, students are learning to use math to solve problems they come up with!  The Titanic example shows how letting students explore their own interests in math will make it more meaningful to their learning.

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