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Question for the mathematics-challenged


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Spam, have you read Outliers?

 

It's been awhile, but I think he would argue strongly that, as important as good teachers are, parental involvement is the most responsible ingredient for what students know. Probs a different topic, though.

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I'm sufficiently junior in my position to still be hopeful that I can teach anyone. I'm certain that I'll become a jaded and grumpy old professor eventually. It is my life goal to be a gruff and grumpy old man anyway. I am teaching science majors, too, and they do show promise; not all the students are poor performers. I'm just not able to teach to the top of the class exclusively any more than I am able to teach to the bottom of the class.

 

When I get bored of the physics and math classes I teach, I intend to jump up the difficulty level immensely. For instance, instead of teaching Newtonian mechanics, I could teach classical mechanics from the Hamiltonian and Lagrangian mechanics perspective, just to amuse myself. I could replace electricity and magnetism with quantum electrodynamics, and I could even replace calculus with the calculus of variations, just because I would expect the top students to then be properly challenged, and the middle and bottom students wouldn't know the difference anyway.

 

But that would be mean. Amusing, but mean.

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Spam, have you read Outliers?

 

It's been awhile, but I think he would argue strongly that, as important as good teachers are, parental involvement is the most responsible ingredient for what students know. Probs a different topic, though.

OMG...my dissertation topic ;)

 

You are both wrong (kind of)!

 

It is my life goal to be a gruff and grumpy old man anyway.

 

 

 

You are already 3/4 of the way there.

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Spam, have you read Outliers?

 

It's been awhile, but I think he would argue strongly that, as important as good teachers are, parental involvement is the most responsible ingredient for what students know. Probs a different topic, though.

OMG...my dissertation topic ;)

 

You are both wrong (kind of)!

 

I only know a lot of teachers irl and read the Gladwell book -- certainly make no claims to be an expert on the issue. If you get the time, would love a topic on it!
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Honestly, math is taught sorta backwards for many people. The issues most of you have described come from a gap in learning somewhere in the sequential order in which math is typically taught. And the majority of that is obviously from some sort of calculation and not necessarily any mathematical concept aside from quantity.

 

This article actually sums it up pretty nicely.

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However, I still maintain that it has been my experience that mathematics and I are nemesis. No matter how hard I have tried, I have always struggled with it. And it is not for lack of intelligence. But until you experience a learning difficulty I guess it's hard to understand having one, or having difficulty with a particular subject.

But could you get a passing grade in a college mathematics course if your graduation depended on it? I bet you could, even though it would suck.

 

I recognize having difficulties and disabilities (already mentioned this in initial post), but I also think a lot of people confuse "difficulty" with "disability," either because they don't believe in themselves or because it's a "get-out-of-math-free" crutch.

 

And even if somebody has a disability, you still need (and can attain) a certain basic competency unless you are wiling to accept major impediments to your day-to-day life.

Yeah I did. I took maths every year that it was compulsory, it was like smashing my face against a brick wall. And in the end I studied my ass off all year to scrape through with a 52% passing grade in my final when I was 15. I dropped maths after that as the effort required to come remotely close to passing was totally not worth it in my mind. I always knew I'd never have a career that demanded much knowledge in mathematics, and there were plenty of other more interesting topics to me to study in it's place. And I knew I'd never take university level maths so I decided to turn my back on the beast and concentrate on things I'm good at.

 

That said, I generally hated school and feeling like a square peg being forced into a round hole so.. Higher education is much more interesting and satisfying. Which brings us to Pav's original point. It's strange that people who voluntarily take a paper for their degree (something that they should enjoy) struggle and resist a topic and complain.. But it's supposed to be something they WANT to do because it's what they want to do in life. I dragged my heels and suffered because I was forced to do maths. I'd never try take the easy road, complain or shirk studies in a subject that I chose to do because I loved it.

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I'd love to hear more about Ender's dissertation, too.

 

The whole parental involvement thing kills me. My parents owned a small business. Do you think I had any help with my homework as a kid? Nope. No one sat me down and made me do it, either. It was on me to excel and to be responsible enough to get it done. I think it made me better prepared to go off to college and excel because I've always known it was my responsibility, not my parents.

 

Last week, a woman I work with was complaining about how exhausted she was because she stayed up until 3 AM 3 nights in a row to help her daughter write a paper. What? Why can't your daughter write her own paper? She told me that she had to do it, otherwise her daughter was willing to take a C in the class. You know what, sweetheart, take your C. Learn that no one is going to save you. But Mom is afraid of failure for her daughter so she picks up the slack. Made me want to scream. I hear other parents close to my saying their parents sat down with them and "made sure" they did their homework, and they are going to have to do the same for their children. If my daughter or son ASKS for my help, I'm happy to show them how to handle a concept. But I'm not going to do their spelling sentences or whatever they do now. I might make rules that require them to finish their homework at night before they get to do fun stuff, but I'm sure as heck not doing it for them. This just baffles me.

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Respectfully, Destiny, I don't think most kids are as smart and disciplined as you. Nobody had to sit you down and make you do your homework.

 

Had my dad not practically sat on me until my homework and such was done the last 3-4 years of public school, no question I would have dropped out. I hated high school and didn't give one single ****. If you have kids who are able to score decent grades but hate school (and there are a lot of them -- I'm hardly unique in that regard), holding them to minimum standards while they are minors living in your house is doing them a big favor, even if they bitch and moan about it the whole time.

 

Now, I agree with you that staying up with your your kid until 3 in the morning and essentially doing their homework is stupid, but that's not what I'm talking about. I don't think anybody likes helicopter parents (including other helicopter parents!), but they're not really what I think of when I say "parental involvement is good." IMO, forcing your kid to be involved in activities 24/7, doing their homework for them, basically living your life through them is a form of mental illness.

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My actual topic is specific classroom practices and STEM. Specifically, what specific classroom practices, and to a greater degree, combination of classroom practices make the greatest impact on STEM learning. I am currently doing data analysis and have a few teacher focus groups to complete in early January. I am not done (I will be in March or April) but I can share quite a bit about my literature review which I think is most relevant to this topic. I am happy to expand on each.

 

 

- There is very little difference in student performance between an average, good, and a great teachers. However, poor teaching can tank student results.

 

- Parental involvement is somewhat important. Rather, it is the inferred importance placed on education within the household that makes the most impact. Destiny, I really relate to what you said in you in you last post. My mom had me young and my dad left. She worked in retail. She never set me down to do my homework, but my mom made it clear education was important. To push this point, home and school goals must be aligned and not work against each. As long as this is happening, there is a good chance the student will stay on track.

 

- Within the school, access to advanced curriculum is not enough. There must be systems in place to push students to access this curriculum. Also, watch for hidden systems and gatekeepers that prevent access.

 

And the biggie...

 

- Within student learning, student reflection on learning is EVERYTHING!

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Hey, we're covering reflection now in my Masters program. The gatekeepers thing is so true. I've actually changed some classroom things based on getting them to reflect. I think it helps I work in a charter school. For some reason I don't feel so micromanaged. I really have more to say but I can't really write well from my tablet and I'm exhausted.

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