Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Responding to Failure is an option

Tim at Assorted Stuff discusses that Failure is an option.

In his post, he discusses that students hate Math because they are taught how not to make mistakes and are penalized for doing so. One suggestion:

First among these is encouraging kids to experiment with concepts and processes instead of always expecting them to memorize and apply algorithms over and over (and over!).
He also links a great resource from one laptop that suggests changes in Math. Of their suggestions that can also be used in my science classes is:
  • Focus on the difference between correlation and cause
  • Ask how one should evaluate evidence
  • Learn how to average with the t-test method
Tim also states:

In the real world, people learn from their mistakes and build on their failures as well as their successes.

In school, especially in how we teach arithmetic, mistakes are not permitted. Everything is right or wrong. There is no other option.

It’s no wonder, by the time students arrive at high school, most pretty much hate the thought of anything called “math”.

This is true not only of the lower level math students but also am seeing the same comments and loathing from the Academic students. It is worrisome. Whatever happened to learning from your mistakes? Of investigating with real data sets or using real world phenomena to investigate relationships? As I tell my students, everything in this universe comes down to a math relationship. Isn't it important that they be able to see those?

All teachers can cultivate the Habits of Mind necessary for students success.

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