Week 5: Reflection

Teaching and learning.  The one constant in this process is that it is constantly evolving.  I suppose there are thousands of research articles and studies done in this field.  It was interesting to see a definition of teacher identity.  I knew there was phrase that describes “Teachers know; teachers believe; teachers feel; teachers participate; teachers belong.”

It was great to hear other teachers tell me that having an instructionist pedagogy is okay.  In fact, almost necessary in certain situations.  I wrote a comment in a classmates blog that I would like to repeat here…

As much as I would like to embrace the constructionism method of teaching and learning, I am still clueless as to how I can make teaching 4th degree polynomials in high school algebra a constructionist lesson. I love the idea of students exploring and learning along the way, making mistakes, and then finding a solution to a problem. I think in upper level math, beyond Algebra 1, it is very difficult to teach this way. I think that’s why I haven’t seen a single text written in this pedagogy. Yeah, you can incorporate this into elementary math lessons because most of elementary math is not dealing with the abstract. Most people can understand the concept of fractions (2/3, 1/2) but give them the “rational expression”  CodeCogsEqn  and you will say “WHAAAAT!” Not only understand the expression, but graph it. Oh, don’t forget to indicate the horizontal and vertical asymptotes and holes. Then find the values of x that make it undefined. I hope you get my point…

Sometimes I question the value of teaching upper level math concepts in high school.  Sure there are degree programs in post-secondary school where it is necessary to learn these topics before entering in college, but the majority of career fields today don’t need math beyond 8th grade.  There are post-secondary institutions that are trying to make these adjustments at this time.  I attended a webinar where a group of Northwest career tech schools, colleges, and universities are trying to reorganize their math education system.  They, too, see the disconnect between a degree program requirements and the math that WAS needed to pass in order to attain that degree.  They are now trying to tailor a pathway where a students’ degree field is accompanied by a valid math education where they will use the math they learn for their degree.  It used to be common for these institutions to require college algebra (what ever that is interpreted to be) in order to graduate.

I believe we need to do the same at the high school level.  Not everyone is meant to learn calculus.  Sometimes Algebra 1 is sufficient.  Sometimes Statistics is sufficient.  Sometimes Financial Math is sufficient.  We need make the same type of accommodations for high school students.  I hope we can move in this direction.

I apologize for the ranting.  It is part of my teacher identity to have such strong feelings about math education! 🙂

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