It is believed by many experts that maths
instruction, which could be so beneficial in countless ways, is basically
flawed preventing the development of valuable cognitive skills, creativity and
innovativeness. Many have attacked standard teaching methods and blamed them
for perpetrating feelings of inferiority concerning maths. Do the three reading
tasks in this selection to discover what exactly they claim and write about the
issue.

**BEFORE YOU READ**

· · Math isn't hard, it's a language | Randy Palisoc
| TEDxManhattanBeach

How you can be good at math, and other surprising facts about learning | Jo Boaler | TEDxStanford https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3icoSeGqQtY

How you can be good at math, and other surprising facts about learning | Jo Boaler | TEDxStanford https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3icoSeGqQtY

**TEXT ONE: 5-YEAR-OLDS CAN LEARN CALCULUS**

**By: Luba Vangelova**

**Published: The Atlantic; March 2014**

**Level of difficulty: *****

**QUESTIONS**

1.
Read
the description of current maths education in paragraph one. What is the
problem with it?

2.
What
conclusion can be drawn from the information in paragraph 3? Where else could
this sentence have been positioned?

3.
What
is it that ‘turns many kids off maths at an early age’?

4.
What
conclusion can be drawn from the fact that there are so many’ maths grief
stories’?

·
Droujkova’s
views are probably correct

·
The
disregard for the enjoyable world of maths is wrong

·
The
hierarchical sequence of maths instruction is wrong

·
All
of the above

·
None
of the above

·
Other
please specify

5.
What
is natural maths and why does it work? It is a system of teaching maths
which…………………………………………………………………………………………………

6.
Droujkova
feels maths education would be greatly improved if people accepted the fact
that……………………………………………………………………………………………………

7. Compare
the two sets of examples Droujkova provides. In what way is building a house
with Lego blocks superior to doing 100 two digit addition problems? Now look back at the section again and try and name an activity from your life that is simple and hard (like doing 100 two digit addition problems) and another that is easy and complex (like building with lego blocks). What do you gain from each activity? What are the pluses and minuses for learning? Discuss.

8.
Read
the description of Moebius Noodles carefully. What is the superiority of this
system as compared to the standard system we currently have?

9.
What
does the phrase “This is what mathematicians do” refer to? There are two
possible answers.

·
They
preserve ……………………………………………….and they……………

10.
The
example of the rhombus is included in the text to support the idea that……………………….

11.
The
advantage of maths circles is that they enable children to
witness………………………………..

12.
The
established maths curriculum is strongly opposed to ………………………………………….in their
learning experience.

13.
Parents
and teachers must stop bullying and badgering children and try…………………instead.

14.
Droujkova
believes that the two standard criticisms leveled at this new approach to maths
education are due to………………………………………………………………………………………………………

15.
Droujkova
states that current a standard math education is all about adults
prescribing…………………………………………………………………………………

16.
How
can the know-how necessary for the new approach to maths teaching be made
readily available? Through………………..,………………………………plus……………………………………….

**TEXT TWO: THE STEREOTYPES THAT DISTORT HOW AMERICANS TEACH AND LEARN MATHS**

**By: Joe Boaler**

**Published: The Atlantic, November 2013**

**Level of difficulty: *****

**QUESTIONS**

1.
What
two conclusions can we draw from paragraph one?

2.
Having
read the first two paragraphs, you know what kind of an article this is in
style. It is:…

3.
Broader
maths is more popular and more conducive to success because……………………………

4.
The
widespread procedure execution in maths has resulted in……………………………………………

5.
Because
the approach described by the writer brings the possibility of maths education
to everyone, it could be described as …………………………………………………………………………………….

6.
We
owe the emergence of the maths underclass to the view that…………………………which is
aggravated by………………………………….Couple this with ……………………………….and you have a
problem.

7.
How
can reaction to the course the writer taught at Stanford be described?

8.
What
examples of problems in maths teaching does the writer emphasize?

9.
Study
the two published test questions. The writer emphasizes the superiority of
………………… because solving this requires …………………………..and……………………………………………..

10.
Why
don’t employers need people who can calculate fast? Use your own words.

11.
The
change in the approach to maths education will bring greater success at work
too thanks to the new focus on …………………………………… and…………………………………………………………….

12.
Teachers
and parents should be encouraging students to………………………..and not be focusing
on…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

13.
The
writer feels ……………………….and………………………..should be removed from the curricula. He
also feels ………………………………………………..can’t help achieve modern goals.

**TEXT THREE: THE MYTH OF ‘I AM BAD AT MATH’**

**By: Miles Kimball and Noah Smith**

**Published: The Atlantic; October 28 2013**

**Level of difficulty: *****

**QUESTIONS**

1.
The
belief in math people has both immediate consequences by…………………………………and also
far reaching consequences as it helps support and feed the misconception of…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

2.
Which
of the following best expresses the main idea of paragraph two?

·
Maths
ability is innate as proved by the case of Terence Tao

·
Talent
is not necessary for high school maths

·
Although
math ability is partly innate, this is not as important as personal effort and
character.

·
All
of the above

·
None
of the above

·
Other:
please specify

3.
Which
of the subtitles below would you assign to paragraph 3?

·
Prepare
and become a math person

·
To
be math people, believe in yourselves

·
Forget
talent, think self-fulfilling prophecy

·
Parents,
we need your help

4.
Read
from “The idea that math ability…” to the end of the paragraph beginning “The
result”. Now select a subtitle for this section from the list below:

·
The
nature / nurture controversy

·
The
fatalistic versus the non-fatalistic approach

·
Intelligence
and how to get it

·
Dweck
and his research

5.
Read
Lisa Carol Dweck and her colleagues’ experiment carefully to the end. The
psychologists set out to test the effects of a fatalistic / non-fatalistic /
both a fatalistic and anon-fatalistic approach to education. They discovered
a(n) optimistic / pessimistic view produced success through hard work, whereas
a(n) optimistic / pessimistic view had the reverse effect.

6.
According
to the text there is (a) negative / positive/ no correlation between hard work
and increases in intelligence.

7.
Which
sentence in the paragraph beginning “So why…” best expresses the main idea?

8.
What
conclusion can be drawn from the comparison of US children to those in Germany,
UK and Sweden?

9.
Which
sentence in the paragraph beginning “We believe” best expresses the danger of
giving up on maths?

10.
What
is the writer referring to when he says “We believe this has to stop”?

·
Americans
must stop going through life terrified of equations and mathematical symbols

·
They
recoil from anything that looks like maths and so they exclude themselves from
quite a few lucrative career opportunities.

·
The
whole paragraph

11.
Read
the remainder of the text and decide which of the qualities below are
associated with East Asians and which with Americans.

·
Studiousness

·
Short
holidays

·
Despondency

·
Perseverance

·
Determination

·
Resentment
in face of criticism

12.
Which
two qualities does the writer feel should be valued more highly in math
education?

13.
Which
major concern underlies the problems related to maths education described in
the text?

**WRITING TASK**

Use all
three texts and your own experience to describe how mind sets could be changed
and more people could learn to benefit from and enjoy maths. Remember there is
a lot of opposition to all this so justify your solutions. What kind of essay
will you end up writing? You will end up writing a problem solution /
argumentative essay but that is just fine so no worries.

**THE MYTH OF ‘I AM BAD AT MATHS’; MULTIPLE TEXT READING INTO WRITING ACTIVITY KEY AND TEACHER’S NOTES**

**This wonderful threesome slot into place beautifully to highlight the negative short and long term impact of current practices involved in teaching maths. It is an issue close to everyone’s heart. The texts lay bare all the mistakes that are made with forceful arguments and suggests revolutionary approaches to teaching maths. From my point of view, the texts provide another bonus too: they gave me the opportunity to ask a variety of careful reading questions; a wider selection than I usually have the opportunity to write. The writing task is challenging and should not be timed.**

**TEXT ONE:**

**5-YEAR-OLDS CAN LEARN CALCULUS,**

**KEY**

- It has nothing to do with how
people think, how children grow and learn or how mathematics is built.
- Calculations kids are forced to
do are often so developmentally inappropriate the experience amounts to
torture; at the beginning of paragraph 3.
- Little manipulations of numbers
- All of the above
- Hinges on harnessing students’
powerful and surprisingly productive instincts for playful exploration to
guide them on a personal journey through the subject / Games and free play
are efficient ways for children to learn.
- The complexity of the idea and
the difficulty of doing it are separate, independent dimensions.
- Building a house with Lego
blocks creates a rich and social mathematical experience that is complex
yet easy. The parenthesis may be included.
- This approach gives you deep
roots so the canopy of the high abstraction does not wither whereas the
current system helps with test taking and mundane exercises but does
nothing for logical thinking and problem solving.
- A playful aspect along the
entire journey; play with abstract ideas but still play
- People are different and people
need to approach mathematics differently
- Meaningful people doing
meaningful things with maths and enjoying the experience
- Giving children a voice
- Inspiring them
- (rather)Deep chasms between
different philosophies of education (or more broadly differences in the
futures we pave for kids)
- What mathematics education they
select or make for the kids
- Online hubs, online courses,
support

**TEXT TWO:**

**THE STEREOTYPES THAT DISTORT HOW AMERICANS TEACH AND LEARN MATHS,**

**KEY**

- Mathematics education in the US
is broken; we need to change the way we teach math
- Argumentative
- Mathematical problems that need
thought, connection making and even creativity are more engaging to the
students of all levels…
- Fewer students contributing and
lower achievement
- Mathematical democratization
- Math is hard, uninteresting and
accessible only to nerds; harsh stereotypical thinking; teaching practices
- Transformative
- The maths that people need in
the 21
^{st}century and the math they spend most of their time on in class: computing by hand - Second, justification and
reasoning
- There are machines to do that
- Justification / reasoning
- To deeply understand things and
their relations to each other; speed
- Redundant content; obsole content; stereotypical thinking and teaching

**TEXT THREE:**

**THE MYTH OF ‘I AM BAD AT MATH’,**

**KEY**

- By hamstringing your own
career; inborn genetic ability
- The third
- The third
- The first is too general, the
last is too narrow, the third is way off. The answer is two
- Both fatalistic and
non-fatalistic, optimistic, pessimistic
- Positive
- Math is the great mental
bogeyman of an unconfident America
- Americans’ native ability is just
as good as anyone’s but we fail to capitalize on this ability through hard
work.
- While we don’t think education
isn’t a cure all for inequality, we definitely believe that in an
increasingly automated workplace, Americans who give up on math are
selling themselves short.
- The first. He doesn’t say ‘all
this has to stop’
- Despondency and resenting
criticism: US; the rest East Asia
- Persistence and grit
- Moving away from a culture of
hard work…

That was interesting to see. I thought of how to make this into a more open-ended assignment, in the spirit of the articles it discusses. For example...

ReplyDeleteFrom:

7. Compare the two sets of examples Droujkova provides. In what way is building a house with Lego blocks superior to doing 100 two digit addition problems?

To:

7. Name an activity from your life that is simple and hard (like doing 100 two digit addition problems) and another that is easy and complex (like building with LEGO blocks). What do you gain from either type of activities? What are their pluses and minuses for learning?

In general, it would be interesting to see ideas, examples, conjectures, and syntheses from people who use prompts.

Very good suggestion; thanks. I shall most certainly have questions of this kind more frequently in future posts. The purpose is to push students to think beyond the text and bring their own experiences into the whole process as well. Thanks very much

DeleteI have added your question as a discussion question that the students can refer to while wri,ting their essay.Thanks

DeleteThank you! If they want to post their answers here, or anything else related, I will respond. I like to ask questions to which I don't know answers. If anything, it makes evaluation very engaging and full of surprises!

DeleteYour content shows the power, I’m about to add this to my bookmarks. essay online

ReplyDelete