Redeeming Mathematics Education

A teacher writes a seemingly meaningless math problem on a white board. Students mindlessly copy what the teacher writes. The goal? Reproduce the teacher's steps on 30 mind-numbing homework problems. Why? So students can pass a test filled with similar minutiae, devoid of all larger context. It appears that students - largely because they are, in fact, human beings- find this to be devoid of value or any type of motivation. Seeing the glazed eyes and lobotomy-inducing boredom the ministry of education degrees decides the content must be made relevant to students. Yet students - largely because they are, in fact, human - find these contrived or insulting. A few will play the game but all are being fed a subject that is simply unworthy of the title "mathematics."

Mathematics is not a collection of recipes for solving different types of problems - though the recipes themselves contain mathematics . Nor is it a tool for simply offering answers for whatever "real-world" questions arise in different facets of our society - though here, too, we find mathematics. No! At its core mathematics is ideas. And, more specifically, the way ideas relate to each other. Indeed, mathematical ideas interact in an elegant dance, of which the student gets to choreograph. Therefore, mathematics possesses an aesthetic component. Furthermore, as a direct consequence of being a dance of ideas, mathematical concepts enjoy the very human notion of story. Teaching mathematics in the absence of story or context does an incredible disservice to the student. In fact, it robs them of ever tuning their intellectual ear to the wonder that is mathematics. Please join me in exploring ways to brashly and unapologetically provide authentic mathematical instruction...

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