Math Wars?

Interesting and level headed article on math education from math_smallCEA. It wouldn’t hurt to take this kind of approach. From the concluding paragraph;

Enabling students to be mathematically competent is a major challenge for our education systems. For too long math education has been characterized by emotional debates that falsely dichotomize instructional approaches without consulting evidence about how students learn math. It is time to heed the empirical evidence coming from multiple scientific disciplines that clearly shows that math instruction is effective when different approaches are combined in developmentally appropriate ways.

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Cuban’s Guiding Principles

In a recent post, Larry Cuban described his “guiding principles on teaching, learning, and reform”. They could be mine as well. Below I have included his points & a few comments. Be sure to read the entire post – context matters!

  1. No single way of teaching works best with all students. Because students differ in motivation, interests, and abilities, using a wide repertoire of approaches in lessons and units is essential. …

  2. Small and slow changes in classroom practice occur often. Fundamental and rapid changes in practice seldom happen. … Over the decades, experienced teachers have become allergic to reformer claims of fast and deep changes in what they do daily in their classrooms. As gatekeepers for their students, teachers, aware of the settings in which they teach, have learned to adapt new ideas and practices that accord with their beliefs and that they think will help their students. …

  3. School structures influence instruction. The age-graded school structure, a 19th century innovation that is now universally cemented to K-12 schooling across the U.S., does influence what happens in classrooms in expected and unexpected ways, depending on the context. …

  4. Teacher involvement in instructional reform. … The history of top-down classroom reform is a history of failed efforts to alter what teachers do daily.

Distractions & Tech: Some Good Questions to Ask

These questions are posed in an interesting post on HybridLaptopPedagogy by S. Morris and J, Stommel. Good discussion and reflection questions about the use of laptops and distractions. The entire post is worth the read.

  1. Will I allow students to use devices in class? Why does this question, a seemingly simple one, raise so much ire and consternation among educators?
  2. What is at stake in this question — for learning — for teaching — for institutions — for corporations?
  3. Is distraction something we can manage for someone else? For ourselves? What do we assume when we valorize attention over distraction in the classroom?
  4. What kind of educational environment do we create when we ask learners to feign attention — when we ask learners and ourselves to feel responsible for each other’s attention and distraction?
  5. What are the pedagogical benefits of looking out the window in class? Of looking into a very different kind of window on the screen of a digital device?
  6. And because this discussion is so often raised in relation to course policies, what kind of policies make for good pedagogy? Do inflexible policies ever make for good pedagogy? Are policies at direct odds with or can they help create an environment of trust in the classroom?

Importantly, we should also ask why students are more often than not left out of the debate or conversation. And what happens when they’re not?