Saturday, March 10, 2012

Math Can Be Really Cool.

In the year 2014, the Common Core will be upon us; at least those of us who live in the 46 States that have signed on. The Common Core Math Standards are a step in the right direction and claim to remove the "mile wide and inch deep" tag the K - 6 math curriculum in most states has been stuck with for some 30 years. The breadth of the math topics has been reduced and the depth of expected understanding has been increased; both good things for any K - 6 student or teacher.

All is not good news, however. Many of the things we currently expect second grade students to do will now be required of first grade students, and so on throughout the grades. These changes have been collectively described as increasing our expectations of what children should achieve, or "upping the standards". The Burlington Free Press recently published an article in which the Vermont State Commissioner of Education advocated for increasing the math standards after a poor showing of math test scores on Statewide math tests.

Why is the focus always on increasing the standards for students and not on doing something to help them increase their accomplishments? Why do we not talk about increasing the math teaching resources, changing the negative, nerdy reputation that math has? Why do we not talk about making math more relevant to the students of today, making it more interesting and accessible?

This is already happening in the lower grades but it has to happen in middle and high schools when students actively choose to study different things; when students can be "hooked" into math classes because it is relevant, interesting, and dare I say it, COOL.

Imagine if HS math teachers were like Vi Hart!      

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