A new way to think about teaching math

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Teachers, parents, tutors, and students have long been struggling with a familiar question when it comes to teaching and learning high school math:

When will these concepts ever be used in real life?

Dan Meyer tackles this question in his 2010 TED Talk, as he suggests that North American textbooks have a certain way of teaching math that could be problematic. He claims that math is typically taught in such a way that problems are framed as issues that can be solved by simply plugging in a formula. Meyer likens students’ expectations to quickly solve a problem to the way obstacles are introduced, dealt with, and left behind within a 22-minute sitcom frame.

Have a listen to his talk for a new way to think about teaching math that revolves around patient problem solving. Teachers could apply this in the classroom and tutors could integrate Meyer’s methods for a more practical approach to teaching math.

Teachers and tutors, do your students ever show a lack of initiative, perseverance, or retention when it comes to math? Do they dislike or try to avoid word problems? Are they keen to use formulas rather than formulating their own through initial conversation?

If so, it could be time to introduce students to the idea of patient problem solving, whether in the classroom or in the online tutoring classroom.

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