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"The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled." - Plutarch
Attitude Adjustment - And How Do YOU Feel About Math?
A few months ago a book called Daily Math caught my eye as I entered the book store. I decided to
buy it to “stay in shape.” I was eager to keep up with the varied and interesting problems--one
problem per page each day. Every problem is followed by the answer and a clear explanation.
However, when I was extolling its virtues, a friend commented that she would rather have a root canal
than do math. Yes, like many of our fellow Americans, she is used to treating math with disdain
instead of enthusiasm.
Here at the Museum of Teaching and Learning we are concerned that math too often takes a back
seat to other topics and activities and that our relative lack of competence is revealed all too often.
Perhaps you have been a customer at fast food restaurants where you lament the inability of the
cashier to make accurate change. Our high school graduates perform at the level of 8th grade
graduates from many other countries. Facility with mental math calculations is sadly lacking in an
era of easy calculator use.
However, we are in a significant time in our democracy’s history when we must have strong abilities
to evaluate data in charts, graphs, and news reports. We need to learn to question figures that are
presented in ways that are potentially slanted. We can start to make a difference by including math
in our regular encounters with our families. Skills in numeracy are not just for a select few.
One way to adjust attitudes is to model excitement and work with students on projects that help
build mathematical understandings in entertaining and interesting ways. Here is a link to a PBS
article that shares interesting projects to do with young children. Older students can do similar
projects but with greater detail and sophistication.
8 Easy Ideas to Add Math Into Your Daily… | PBS KIDS for Parents
On a broader scale, we are concerned when only nine of our nation’s states show improvement
on the test known as “The Nation’s Report Card.” It is the NAEP (National Assessment of
Educational Progress) that is administered to sample populations of grades 4, 8, and 12 (ages 9,
13,17) every two years. Although young students’ math scores have increased, those for 17
year-olds have remained flat for many years.
Another assessment is an international test that measures competency of 15-year-olds every
three years. It is the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) that evaluates
educational systems in mathematics, science, and reading. The United States comes in 36th out
of the 79 participant nations with a very low position within the group of industrialized nations.
Surely, the measures that families take at home don’t resolve other kinds of contributing factors
such as teachers’ lackluster skills and low levels of enthusiasm for math, but that is another topic
worthy of concern. What family math DOES do is start children out with a “Can do” set of
experiences and attitudes that are modeled by the ADULT(S) in their lives. If your attitude does
need adjusting now is a good time.
Numeracy Skills https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/finding-a-job/numeracy-skills
Artifact of the Month
We are building a virtual
exhibition of our artifact collection. The selection for
The Wonder Number Game
Learn about this!
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