Saturday, November 30, 2013

Are You Promoting Mathematical Thinking?

Before April jumps into our laps and we all become consumed by the need to show improvements on our test scores, it seems like a good time to step back and think about the numeracy that we really want for our children. Instead of celebrating statistically insignificant increases in your state test math scores (which I think is comical and proves the point of how we have reduced math to comparing two numbers with no context or true analysis), let's rethink the mathematical thinking that we want to fill the conversations of children and adults alike. I am purposeful about using the term mathematical thinking as opposed to math as the critical thinking and problem solving of math has been my true passion surrounding the subject for a long time. No one becomes a better mathematical thinker by doing more problems or becoming a computational speed champion, but the growth comes from conversations around patterns, seeing math in spaces not traditional to the topic, playing with the numbers, and molding data to become educative for others. The beauty of mathematical thinking gets squeezes out of the system as preparation for state tests, ACT, and AP Stats or Calculus accelerates over the top of the beauty of mathematical thinking. We need children and adults that are good consumers of numbers, see patterns for design, and know how to take the complexity of math to larger audiences through elegant explanations. This isn't easy with the testing industrial complex rooted in its primary sphere of influence, math, but I believe that our students deserve more courage in this area. Let the video below push your thinking.

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