Posts Tagged ‘unpredictable mathematics’

Are you going to be a giant, wizard, or dwarf?


What about a different character? What about a mermaid?

No, replied the other person, you have to choose from the giant, wizard or dwarf-there is no mermaid option.

The above is an excerpt from Jennifer’s chapter on “Spaces for unpredictable mathematics.” If we think of the giant, wizard, dwarf and mermaid as metaphors for mathematical learning, we can view the above exchange as an educator asking students to be “boxed” into a category of mathematical learning; one that does not make room for mermaids(who stand for the unpredictable).

Jennifer argues that “…it makes no sense that definitive categories or endpoints in children’s mathematical explorations would be desirable or even realistic…”

I wholeheartedly agree with this statement: WHY are we creating constraints and trying to push student’s thinking in a directed outcome? To me, this seems akin to rats in a maze, searching for the one correct outcome. That is not learning, that is projecting your desired outcome onto someone else for the sake of maintaining your perspective or ideal. Instead, we need to focus on discovery-based learning, where the teacher is a sort of “guide on the side,” and students take on greater responsibility for their mathematical learning; giving way to quantitative literacy. Through these two means, students understand the role that mathematics plays in the world. This type of learning and teaching will allow for the resurgence of mermaids; who are dwindling in numbers.