The Wrong Way to Teach Math

by Early Math Counts

According to last Sunday’s New York Times’ article in the Sunday Review by Andrew Hacker, we are teaching math wrong.  Rather than focusing on algebra and geometry, we should be focusing on “quantitative reasoning” skills – the math skills we will most likely use throughout our lives. These skills support a more comprehensive understanding of the math we need to move through our lives rather than math that exists for most of us only in the classroom.

For instance, many people read newspapers, magazines, and look at advertisements, etc.  In some of these, there is data that supports the articles.  Sometimes the data is in graph form.  Other times it is in percentages.  We, as mathematical literate people need to be able to read and understand those numbers and graphs.  Most of us don’t need to know how to solve for X, when y is imaginary and m=4.  We do need to know how to calculate the square footage of our front lawn in order to buy fertilizer and we do need to know how to understand our phone plan so we can make the most informed decision financially.

Take a look at the article and tell us what you think.  Are we doing it all wrong?

4 Replies to “The Wrong Way to Teach Math”

  1. In the field of early childhood education taking opportunities during children\’s growth and development as they engage in everyday activities and routines allows knowledgeable teachers to enhance the development of basic math concepts. A basic foundation of math skills which allow children\’s growth, inquiry, interest, and internal motivation to engage in the acquisition of higher forms of math. It is essential for our country to have children learn about algebra, geometry, calculus, etc to respond to the technological advances that are constant in our world.

  2. Reasoning skills learned from very early experiences of young children build a strong foundation for future, more complicated math processes and problem solving. Math talk, and encouraging students to talk out a problem, discuss possible solutions and challanges, supports the development of this reasoning.

  3. Basic reasoning is by far the best way to get math concepts rolling in an early education setting. For example, an argument over blocks between two children: \”why do you think you need more blocks than Bobby? How do you think we can figure out how to get more blocks? Should we work together, or are you trying to make something all by yourself?\”

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