January 24, 2022

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What Students Are Saying About Dream Jobs, Math Education and Self-Compassion

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I love math, and I believe that several excellent teachers have cultivated this passion to where it now stands. That said, much has to be said about the current rigid path of mathematics. Math is a vast and various field beyond the narrows of calculus. Other topics like statistics are at least equally important for most students. Personally, learning about data analysis gave me powerful skills that I apply every day in my science classes for accurately analyzing and understanding study findings. With its direct usefulness in other disciplines, I believe that core statistics will spark further curiosity in mathematics. We should look towards the future as well. With the rising presence of big data, having the skills to take advantage of this sensory surplus is vital for the progression of the internet of things. As data science and artificial intelligence become more prevalent in our lives, having a fundamental understanding of data analysis will help the populace understand what exactly they’re relying on. Boaler was right; the current focus of math is outdated for a past chapter of American history, and a change is needed to address the chapters to come.

Michael, Fenton, MO

Going into class as a student and upon examining the board, you see an equation, and you immediately realize the inevitable: memorization is about to take place. In regards to the education of maths, one major discussion being addressed is the approach to teaching the subject. One standpoint suggests that memorization in math, such as equations, is essential for students to grasp and recall the information being taught, while the other advises that conceptual approaches will improve understanding of the topic at hand. In my experience, memorization does little to improve the most imperative goal of learning math: to enhance logical skills. When an equation is needed to solve a particular problem, students should be taught the relation of the equation to the problem, in order for the student to understand them. Having the ability to understand the how and why in math builds those logical skills, which is one of the ways the proposed California guidelines might be beneficial to go forth with.

David, Union High School/Vancouver, WA

What I think would be the most effective way of teaching math is to have the teacher explain a concept and then come to individual students who have questions while the class is independently working on problems involving the concept so they can offer 1 on 1 learning. I also think projects are a good way to assess students as well as tests, but they should be done individually, not in groups.

Kael, J.R. Masterman School Philadelphia

In high school, students who were able to take more advanced courses in middle school are then able to quickly progress into advanced math classes, having already taken many of the prerequisite courses. If tracking was eliminated, all students in each grade level would take the same foundational math courses that may better prepare a wider range of students for higher-level math. However, high school students would be entering high school without having taken many of the prerequisite courses that would qualify them for advanced math courses. In such a system, successful math students would be prevented from advancing and would instead be limited to a much slower pace; furthermore, having more students in the middle school courses would prevent teachers from helping each student more individually.

Emily, Maury High School- Norfolk, VA

Another issue found in teaching math is the separation between the “gifted” children and others. Students are put into different tracks early on in their education, and it can be hard for a student to get into the advanced track if they didn’t make it the first time. The guidelines suggest a limitation of gifted courses and programs, but Critics of the draft see this as punishing the high achievers. I can attest, being a part of a gifted program in early elementary school myself. It gave me an advantage by adapting my learning to my needs, but it was cut short, leaving me to feel as if I haven’t quite reached my potential.

Clayton, Sullivan High School

In my experience, tracking students not only helps them receive a higher level of learning, but it also promotes a comfortable environment for those who aren’t accelerated. In grade school before tracking, I frequently remember feeling discouraged and drowned out by all of the students that were ahead of me. It wasn’t until we split in 6th grade that I remember finding comfort in being with those at the same caliber as me.

Isabel, Jesuit High School

It is known that students of races other than white are not given the same opportunities and as I read it became more apparent that even the simplest of things are taken away. The article says “According to data from the civil rights office of the Education Department, Black students represented about 16 percent of high school students but 8 percent of those enrolled in calculus during the 2015-16 school year. White and Asian students were overrepresented in high-level courses.”, now these students most likely were not given the same encouragement or confidence before either enrolling into or not enrolling into calculus. Typically White and Asian students are stereotyped to be good at math and praised more for doing so. I think that opportunities should be given equally among students and they should all be encouraged to do bigger things.

Olivia, Block 3, Hoggard High School Wilmington, NC

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