How to teach math?!

http://www.cbc.ca/video/swf/UberPlayer.swf?state=shareaudio&clipId=2171965136&width=512&height=126

I recently stumbled across the excellent CBC pod-cast “Making math make sense” that interviewed a panel of parents, teachers and math educators on their thoughts on the current Saskatchewan math curriculum and teaching practices. 

It was really interesting to hear how many people are concerned about the current math practices in Saskatchewan. Many people argued that students in Saskatchewan are not being taught the essential basic skills that are needed in order to succeed in math. They argue that teachers are now focusing so much on student discovery of math concepts that students are failing to inquire necessary skills. Some parents argue that these inquiry methods are very visual and that students who are not visual learners are set up for failure. One parent said that the only reason their kid knows their multiplication tables is because they are practicing them at home. They argue that teachers should not be avoiding route memorization and direct teaching of basic skills.

On the other side, some educators are arguing that the new math curriculum is encouraging a real understanding of math, rather then just the memorization of facts or steps. They argue that this true understanding is what is going to ensure students master more complex math concepts. They also argue that teaching math through inquiry and student discovery makes math more relevant, which keeps students more engaged.

My current personal philosophy ( although it is constantly evolving) is why does math need to be taught in one way or another? I believe that it is important for students to have opportunities to discover math concepts. I also believe that these experiences can help foster a true understanding of the way that math concepts work. I also believe that there is a time and a place for direct math instruction and memorization. I also believe that any teacher-teaching math needs to take their students into consideration. A math teacher should always be asking themselves a) how do my students learn? What has given them success? What could help further their understanding of these math concepts?That being said, math is an area that I am very eager to gain further ideas and insights into how to teach it effectively and meaningfully for student success.

 I am now opening up the discussion to all of you:What did you think about the podcast? What are your thoughts on the Math Makes Sense textbook? How do you think math should be taught? What are some of your concerns on how math is currently being taught?

ps- If you want more imformation on the group which was interviewed go to http://wisemath.org/- lots of imformation and useful topics to think about!

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