Wednesday, September 13, 2006

9/13 - Why math?

Late last night, I was thinking about how I can try to get through to my students that math is going to be an important part of their learning for their future. So many of them see math as useless in the real world and part of that comes from a public perception that it is okay to be bad at math. Many of these kids hear their parents say that they are bad at math and the kids see their parents as being successful. I was trying to think of some way to get through to them besides just me giving examples. I thought there might be a way that I could send out a mass email (chain letter) to everyone that I know that asks people to go to a website or blog and post any ways that they see math is important in their jobs or lives. I do not know the best way to do this but I though with the technology we have today I might be able to get people from all over to tell their side of it instead of just hearing it from their math teacher. I have to look into the best way to get this done. I think if I can come up with a convincing letter to send out, that I might get some help with convincing the students that what they are learning is important even if they never factor expressions in their jobs. It is getting harder to tell these students that Algebra is important when I know that most of them will not use this math in their careers.


Blogger Missy Jonson said...

I think this is a great idea!! Maybe play with the idea of having the students write the letter to the outside world. Maybe have them write a letter somewhere that they have interest for their futures?? This sounds like a great idea!!! Also, I struggle with this as well. My answer to the infamous question when will we ever use this is that high school is supposed to be a broad range of knowledge and no, not every student is going to use everything that I teach them in class in their jobs when they get older. However, also you could explain to them that the process of solving problems relates to EVERYTHING!! Let me know where you go with this assignment/letter to outside jobs.

1:54 PM  
Blogger Mr. Webster BHS said...

Being both a coach (basketball) and a mathematics teacher, I have found that an answer (not THE) to the eternal "when-are-we-ever-going-to-use-this " question is an analogy with sports and training.

I would find an athlete in the class (they are everywhere in our school...almost no one is left to cheer at pep rallies because so many students participate...) and ask them if in their sport/competition/meet have they ever been asked to do a bicep curl. Inevitably the answer is no, (unless they are a competitive strongmen lifting Yugos...). I ask them if it is important in their particular sport to train and isolate muscles and they are (usually) aware that it is true.

Most start to get the analogy before I make the connection, but for the rest of the class I explain how training the mind is much like a muscle group. A particular topic/concept/skill/algorithm may not, in a vacuum on it's own, need to be remembered forever, but the ability to learn something new and incorporate it into prior knowledge is sort of like traiing a bicep to be able to do its job when asked.

Even if they think factoring binomials is's a lot less boring than 5 sets of 7 bicep curls...

5:26 PM  

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