Christian Long

Dan Meyer: Math Curriculum Makeover

In TED Talks on May 24, 2010 at 8:49 am

Extra credit reflection by EDWARD C.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Dan Meyer:  Math Curriculum Makeover

Here I am, the weekend before my finals trying to recram everything I learned in math class just so I can get a passing grade. I’ve spent so many hours a week on math problems that you could probably create a hard math problem on how many hours I spent. But what if teachers around the world redesigned the way of teaching so that we could learn how to solve types of problems once and never forget. Well this is unlikely because we are not perfect and we are bound to forget stuff, but if we were taught how to approach tough problems rather than just plugging it into a formula. We could solve many more problems without having to relearn sections.

Like Dan said, “textbooks teach us how to plug in formula and answer specific types of equations, but it’s is almost impossible to remember every single formula out there”. So what is the right way to approach mathematical problem solving? Well, if I knew the answer I wouldn’t be cramming sections after sections every day. I do believe however that there is more than one answer. Math problems can be solved through multiple ways. For example you can find the area of a triangle through base times height divided by two, or you can find it through heron’s law where you add all the sides divided by 2… and then do so many more steps. But the point is that because there are so many ways to achieve a solution to a problem it’s not important that you know how to plug in simple formulas but how to approach the question in a calm way to allow you as a student to conquer the question.

I also believe that the environment that you being taught in is very important. Most math classes include desks, a few white boards, and a textbook. But what if we revolutionized not only the way of teaching math but he surroundings in which math is taught it. Could it be possible that if we change the surroundings into something more favorable students would be able to retain more information? Everything down to the architecture of the school can influence the students learning abilities. If we make it that a school doesn’t feel like school and maybe a more comfortable environment maybe people would be able to focus better and study in a more relaxed community.

So overall let us not only revise how we teach but also the environments in which we teach in.

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