Why your math class sucks!

If Dan Meyers from Mountain View, California, had appeared in a math class at the Thusnelda Gymnasium in Cologne-Deutz in early September 2002, my life would have probably taken a whole other turn – for the better.

But he didn’t. And so I am sitting here, hating math for more than 13 years (since September 2002 to be specific), wishing that my math teachers at that time would have been as cool as Dan. Well, they were not. And I am not a cool, charming math nerd, who knows how to calculate how long it takes to fill up a tank. But I am a much cooler, charming writing nerd who will tell you why you should watch his awesome talk at TEDxNYED.

As you can guess by now, Dan Meyers is a high school math teacher who asks how we can design the ideal learning experience for students and demands a makeover for math curriculums, that teach students to think about and to solve math problems rather than finding the correct formula in a textbook to fill out.

„We just give problems to students; we don’t involve them in the formulation of the problem.“ Dan Meyers

That is a shame. Dan asks teachers and students to get to the bottom of things and rather than learning formulas, to learn how to build a problem, how to understand where the problem comes from. This would not only help lower the abstraction of numbers and mathematical signs, but also the aversion for word problems for students. It opens up a new level on which students start to discuss a problem and have a mathematical conversation FOR WHICH they use the math.

His way of teaching has been a great and successful experience for himself, but his students, too:

„We’re no longer intimidated by math, because we’re slowly redefining what math is. This has been a lot of fun.“

If you are wondering how you can approach Meyer’s strategy as a teacher, you can visit his website where you will find examples of rebuilding problems from a math textbook, more exciting tips on math reasoning and patient problem solving.

Don’t watch “Two and a half Man”. Watch this TEDTalk!


Header Image by Pixabay
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About Ece Isil Sahin

Ece has fallen for the arts since she was 5 years old. Growing up between backstage areas and theatre cafés, she is now majoring in Theatre-, Film- and Mediastudies at the Universitiy of Vienna.

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