How long is this going to take?
Dan Meyer Response
I find Dan’s dissatisfaction with student’s lack of enthusiasm towards maths inspiring. He wants teachers to show students how mathematical processes can be applied to the world around us through mathematics reasoning. He outlines many of today’s maths lessons as lacking in initiative and perspective and explain how students, as a result, lack the ability to be able to retain information, have an aversion to word problems and an eagerness for formula. He therefore encourages teachers to refine word problems by letting students build the problem through the use of multimedia, while encouraging student intuition. He suggests teachers should be less helpful and ask students the shortest questions possible. He argues that mathematics should serve the conversation in class not the other way around and that students should be aware of the way in which mathematics makes sense of the world around them.
I think that the way that Dan was describing the teaching of mathematics made the subject a lot more accessible. It would lead to the engagement of those students who may have otherwise been disconnected from the lesson and from the subject as a whole. Encouraging the idea of students asking the question themselves rather than being prescribed by a teacher may lead to the students having more concern over the answer and therefore put more effort in to solving the problem. This would also mean that once in an exam environment, student would be competent at problem solving and answering questions when they haven’t been guided to a method and able to extract which part of the question they are required to use. It would give everyone the chance to be involved in classroom discussion rather than being intimidated by the long worded questions. It also leads to students having a greater chance of remembering what they have learnt and intrinsically understanding the meaning rather than just repeating formula in a parrot-fashion with no consideration for why.
In opposition, I can also see there may be negative points to this way of teaching. For more able students they may become disengaged, due to the slow nature of getting to the answer. Taking this into account, although blanket theories are never going to be able to reach every student, it is clear that things in the Mathematics classroom needs to be changed.
From my own experience in secondary schools I have met many disengaged students who have a negative conception of Mathematics. They can find heavily worded questions overwhelming and highly intimidating. By applying Dan’s method of removing the words and just leaving the maths, all the students in the classroom are able to have a discussion about the scenario rather than experiencing restriction due to their lack of mathematic knowledge. I have also found that those students who struggle with their level of literacy often become disheartened and won’t even attempt long worded questions. This links in with the vocabulary of mathematics also. If mathematics became a less intimidating subject it may lose the adverse stigma so many associate with this area of study.