I love mathematics, and I believe many outstanding teachers have cultivated that passion into what it is now. However, much more must be said about the current rigid course of mathematics. Mathematics is a broad and diverse field that extends beyond calculus. Other topics such as statistics are at least as important to most students. Personally, learning about data analysis has given me powerful skills that I apply daily in my science classes to accurately analyze and understand study findings. With its immediate usefulness in other disciplines, I believe that basic statistics will spark more curiosity in mathematics. We must look to the future, too. With the growing presence of big data, having the skills to tap into this sensory overflow is vital to the advancement of the Internet of Things. As data science and artificial intelligence become more prevalent in our lives, having a basic understanding of data analysis will help people understand exactly what they are relying on. Buller was right. The current focus of mathematics is outdated relative to an earlier chapter of American history, and a change is needed to address upcoming chapters.
– Michael, Fenton, Mo
More visualization, less memorization
Entering class as a student and examining the board, you see an equation, and you immediately realize that it’s inevitable: memorization is about to happen. With regard to mathematics education, one of the main debates being addressed is the approach to teaching this subject. One view suggests that memorization in mathematics, such as equations, is necessary for students to understand and recall the information being taught, while the other advises that conceptual methods will improve understanding of the topic at hand. In my experience, memorizing doesn’t help much in improving the most pressing goal of math learning: enhancing logical skills. When an equation is needed to solve a particular problem, students should be taught the relationship of the equation to the problem, so that the student can understand it. Having the ability to understand how and why in mathematics builds those logical skills, which is one way the proposed California Guidelines may be useful going forward.
– David, Union High School / Vancouver, Washington
I think the most effective way to teach math is to have the teacher explain a concept and then come to individual students who have questions as the class independently works on problems involving the concept so they can offer one-on-one teaching. I also think projects are a good way to assess students as well as exams, but they should be done individually and not in groups.
– Kyle, JR Masterman School, Philadelphia
Consider the pros and cons of grouping students by ability
In high school, students who managed to take more advanced courses in middle school can quickly advance to advanced math classes, having already taken several advance courses. If tracking were excluded, all students at each grade level would take the same core math courses which might better prepare a larger group of students for higher-level math. However, high school students will enter high school without taking many of the prerequisite courses that would have qualified them for advanced mathematics courses. In such a system, successful mathematics students will be prevented from progressing and will be limited to a much slower pace; Moreover, having more students in middle school courses will prevent teachers from helping each individual student.
– Emily, Murray High School – Norfolk, Virginia
Another problem with mathematics teaching is the separation of “gifted” children from others. Students are placed on different paths early in their education, and it can be difficult for a student to get into the advanced path if they do not succeed in it the first time. The guidelines suggest limits on talented courses and programs, but critics of the draft argue that this penalizes top achievers. I can attest, being part of the Early Elementary School Gifted Program myself. It gave me an edge by adapting my education to my needs, but it was cut short, making me feel as if I hadn’t fully achieved my potential.
– Clayton, Sullivan High School
In my experience, keeping track of students not only helps them get a higher level of learning, but also promotes a comfortable environment for those who aren’t accelerated. In elementary school before catching up, I often remember feeling frustrated and overwhelmed by all the students who came before me. I didn’t remember finding comfort with those on the same level as me until after we split up in sixth grade.
– Isabelle, Jesuit High School
The equation for access to high-level mathematics
It’s common knowledge that students of non-white races don’t get the same opportunities, and as I’ve read, it’s becoming clear that even the simplest things are taken away. The article says, “According to data from the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, black students represented about 16 percent of high school students but 8 percent of students enrolled in calculus during the 2015-16 school year. White and Asian students were overrepresented in high courses level.”, now most likely these students were not given the same encouragement or confidence before enrolling in or not enrolling in calculus. White and Asian students are often portrayed as being good at math and are more praised for doing so. I think students should be given equal opportunities and they should all be encouraged to do bigger things.
– Olivia, Block 3, Hoggard High School, Wilmington, North Carolina