Memorizing Math Drags American Students Down

PISA, an international assessment of students, will be coming out with their results in December. American performance in mathematics is expected to stay disappointingly low. What's interesting about this year's assessment though, as Jo Boaler notes, is that PISA analyzed three distinct learning styles and corrolated them to performance. Those who memorize (and the U.S. has a concentrated number...

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The Problem with Problems

 

Problems have a bad rap. Facing a sudden problem disturbs our life routine, takes time and effort from things we like or have to do every day, and forces us to focus on the unpleasantness of solving something difficult in order to remove it and move on.

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Learned Helplessness

Every teacher knows that one girl or boy in her classroom who just won't do "it," whatever "it" is: a math problem, essay writing, or jumping rope. A teacher's gentle encouragement of these students tends to fall on deaf ears because they have an unfortunate condition I like to call "learned helplessness."

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To math, or not to math?

 

For about 40 years now, the prevailing approach for teaching mathematics has been to break math rules, methods, techniques, and procedures into smaller and smaller pieces, digestible for students within a class period. The assumption is that these spoon-fed pieces will eventually magically connect and unite into a solid and holistic ability to solve complex mathematical problems. The advent...

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