Traditions, tensions, and transitions

Posted: November 28, 2013 in The root of the matter
Tags: , , ,

 

Mathematical language: It’s a tricky beast, and usually never easily understood (or explained). So why do we teach young students the same terminology that baffles adults? Why are we making mathematics more confusing for kids? And why are we not using simple terminology in order to explain mathematical concepts? We need to start unpacking terminology!

  

In the above diagram, a Right angle can be interpreted in many ways: to me, it looks like a left angle (L for left, like when we teach children how to know their right and left by looking at the shape their fingers make…)So how is a student supposed to know that this arbitrary angle, is called a right angle and is always set at 90 degrees? Instead of rote memorization, there needs to be more time spent on creating meaning for terms.  Have students get into the corner of a room and pretend they are a right angle (how does this feel, how do you know you are 90 degrees). Have examples of what right angles look like outside of textbook diagrams, or better yet, go for a walk and have students point out how many right angles they can see!

As educators, we need to take the time to teach what matters. Mathematics matters, and needs to be broken down and explained thoroughly so that students are able to build connections and strengthen their understanding of concepts. 

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