There is no escape...believe it or not. Mathematics is everywhere.
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It's funny, I've been thinking about this very question this month, as I've been preparing for my first workshop for pre-service math teachers. As a 6th grade math teacher, I believe my biggest challenge is to overcome built up fears, inhibitions, and an "I'm not good at math" attitude, prevalent especially in students who have failed to succeed in math so far. How do you take a failing student or a just getting by student and turn them into a math believer and a math achiever?
My biggest challenge: teaching to so many different levels of intelligence in one classroom. I have over-achievers, B/C students, F students, students who don't care, and mentally retarded students ALL IN ONE CLASS.
The over-dependency on calculators. While technology is nice, but the over-dependency on calculators drowns out the basic knowledge needed by my students. For most of them, single digit multiplication and their respective division problems takes 10 seconds without a calculator. Addition and subtraction takes forever without a calculator. I tried to form a competitive math team last year, but I felt dismayed watching calculus students unable to add 1/4 + 1/3. (They thought the answer was 1/7. And this was more than 1 calculus student.) While calculators provide a definitive answer, this answer can be wrong if the user is not careful. The over-dependency on calculators have erroneously eliminated the need for students to step back and think about whether their solution is correct or not. Once they are set on their thinking on how to solve a problem, if they get an answer from the calculator, they will assume it is correct even when the answer defies a logical sense. This over-dependency is mind-boggling.
The over-dependency on calculators. While technology is nice, but the over-dependency on calculators drowns out the basic knowledge needed by my students. For most of them, single digit multiplication and their respective division problems takes 10 seconds without a calculator. Addition and subtraction takes forever without a calculator. I tried to form a competitive math team last year, but I felt dismayed watching calculus students unable to add 1/4 + 1/3. (They thought the answer was 1/7. And this was more than 1 calculus student.) While calculators provide a definitive answer, this answer can be wrong if the user is not careful. The over-dependency on calculators have erroneously eliminated the need for students to step back and think about whether their solution is correct or not. Once they are set on their thinking on how to solve a problem, if they get an answer from the calculator, they will assume it is correct even when the answer defies a logical sense. This over-dependency is mind-boggling.
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