Sunday, April 15, 2012

Since it was Spring Break this week and I didn't formally meet with my colleagues, I wanted to share this article that I got in this week's Accomplished Teacher by SmartBrief email, Numbers Game: America's Struggle to Make Math Fun.  

This article talks about "America's cultural problem with math... and how a brave group of educators and entrepreneurs think they can change that. With games and competitions, museums and traveling road shows - and a strategic sprinkling of celebrities - they aim to make math engaging, exciting and even fun."  This is something that I struggle with on a daily basis.  Growing up, I was a "good math student" but I struggled with it constantly.  I could study and pass tests, but it wasn't until I started teaching with math really started coming together for me.  I have been in the middle of many lessons with my 7th and 8th graders, and all of a sudden, something clicked and the math made sense to me.... more than 10 years after I first learned the material.  Back then, knowing why things worked it math didn't matter to me.  I was able to memorize formulas and procedures, but it was only recently did I start "doing math."  Math wasn't fun then, but I was still able to be successful with it later on.

To me, the most interesting quote from the article is "While he applauds the tournaments and treasure hunts and most especially the math museum, veteran math teacher J. Michael Shaughnessy says it will take more than good PR to boost math's appeal. It will take a cultural revolution.  Every time he hears a parent tell a child, "I've done fine without math," or "You don't really need to know that," he quietly but urgently interrupts.  "That gives kids permission not to try hard at a subject that's really challenging for everyone," said Shaughnessy, the president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. "It's doing national damage."  My catchphrase this year in my Integrated Algebra classroom is "Trust yourself" because ultimately that is what I want my students to do.  It's not my math, or some ancient person's math, it's just math.  And yes its confusing sometimes.  But it's OK to struggle.  And part of what makes that struggle so worth it, is trusting yourself   and trusting the math.

What am I learning about collaboration?
I love reading articles like this and I think it's important for teachers to be able to read and share information that is important to them and their teaching whether it's through a weekly email newsletter, blog, or PLC.  We can't do it alone.


  1. Hi Anna.

    Although the post was a little confusing (I couldn't tell which were your own words and when you were quoting from the article.) I think the point of the article is an important one for all of us. I appreciate the personal connection you made to the idea of a cultural revolution regarding math by encouraging struggling and trusting oneself.

  2. I like that you look at collaboration as more than just sitting with your colleagues at a meeting. I think reading articles and sharing what they say on a blog is a great way to collaborate also.