Beware: This is not your average blog post
I am currently taking a mathematics methods class, learning how children or students learn mathematics concepts and how best to teach them by following the guidelines set by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM).
My experience learning mathematics as a student:
Now that I am in the process of becoming an Elementary teacher, I find myself thinking back to my experiences in school. My high school mathematics teacher was very passionate about the subject; she knew what she was teaching and really wanted to help us understand it. Her passion and knowledge of math is what made me love it. I hope to bring the same amount of passion and knowledge to my future classroom.
What I loved and hated about math:
I love geometry. There is something satisfactory about problem solving and applying reasoning and proof to solve a geometry problem. I never enjoyed calculus, probably because the way I was taught focused heavily on procedural knowledge; I had no conceptual knowledge of calculus. However, I have both conceptual and procedural knowledge of geometry, so it made sense to me. I was not taught data analysis and probability, which is a NCTM Content Standard.
How my understanding of mathematics was assessed in school:
When I was in school we were mostly assessed by means of formal objective (right or wrong) assessments. Our grades were influenced by our answers to the questions, as well as whether our methods were correct – simply getting the correct answer was not enough. However, we were only required to explain our reasoning through our computation of the problem.
NCTM Process Standards and my experience with them:
The NCTM math process standards were not followed when I was in school; but, the process standards I do remember encountering were problem solving, reasoning and proof, connections, and representation. Communication was not something that was deemed important for mathematical instruction when I was in school. I believe if the process of communication was a focus in my math instruction, I would have gained more conceptual knowledge and may have excelled in more content areas.
Why the NCTM Process Standards are important in mathematics classrooms today:
The NCTM process standards ensure that mathematic instruction is not limited to procedural knowledge. Today students are expected to “develop their reasoning skills, sharpen their problem-solving abilities, see how mathematics connects to other branches of mathematics and other subjects, and communicate their thought processes to others using the language of mathematics in written and oral form… [this] will enable…students to function better in the scientific society in which they will spend the rest of their lives“ (Exemplary Practices for Secondary Math Teachers, 2007, p. 10).
What was your experience like, learning mathematics in school? What do you think could have made it better or more effective?
(If you want to know more about the NCTM Principles and Standards: http://www.nctm.org/)
Exemplary Practices for Secondary Math Teachers (2007). Alfred S. Posamentier, Daniel Jaye, and Stephen Krulik. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, p3-12. From Gale Virtual Reference Library.