A South Surrey teacher wonders what would happen if math students were encouraged to speak out more in class.

A South Surrey teacher wonders what would happen if math students were encouraged to speak out more in class.

LETTERS: A logical argument for emotions

Editor:

There is a consistent voice being broadcast by the media – that we are failing in our math scores and have to go back to the basics

Editor:

There is one consistent voice being broadcast by the media – that we are “failing” in our math scores and have to go back to the basics.

Do you remember your math classroom? Students sat in rows and listened to the teacher. They took notes and tried to follow everything the teacher was doing at the board.

Most of us, if not all, are the products of that approach to learning and teaching of mathematics. After all, many of us have graduated from this kind of approach, and we did not turn out to be that bad, now did we? We follow directions well and are able to apply formulas and algorithms swiftly and flawlessly.

What you have here is 30 people sitting quietly in a room, separated and unable to talk and work together.

Each and every one of them has some ideas on how to solve the problems, some of these ideas are the same, some are different and some are similar.

There is vast richness in that! Does it make sense to only fall back on what the teacher had presented? Perhaps…

But what if we give another way a try? What would happen if you let students work together and collaborate? Sure enough, they are not focusing on listening to someone else explain example after example.

This must be a bad idea, because… well, because it is not how we used to do it.

Shall we take a closer look at this kind of classroom? Study the image (above) by a student of mine at Southridge. Anything wrong with this picture? Sure, there is no ‘order’ and ‘structure,’ but there is something far more important here. Let us think for a moment.

Dare we say that a sentence with the words “math” and “enjoy” can exist?

This is where so many of my colleagues are striving to arrive at. Every time I get a chance to take part in professional development with B.C. Mathematics Teachers Association as a leading organizational institution, I’m astonished and taken away by the talents and dedication of my fellow mathematics educators.

Research and practice have intertwined and continue to do so with some amazing outcomes and projects!

My colleagues are working on student engagement and participation. Work is being done on understanding the value of math homework. Some people have dedicated the past five years to explore the effects of a flipped classroom – both at the secondary and university levels – and whole class discussions. Practitioners are bringing technology into their classrooms: students get to explore and do mathematics with computers and tablets, iPads and clickers.

All this sounds glamourous and very promising to have a positive influence on students’ learning of mathematics.

The problem is that the general public is hardly aware of these ideas and breakthroughs. As the result, students are actively engaged in discussions, and these discussions are about mathematics and not about how their weekend went or who to invite to the next party. Students take ownership of their learning and are helping each other to advance their understanding of mathematical concepts.

For the past decade-and-a-half, they have been trying to get there. Now, many have. I have seen it, and many parents have seen it in their children’s math classrooms, or at least heard about them when their child comes home and tells them that “it was fun in math today.”

Mixing emotions and mathematics – two things that were taboo to unite. But we are human after all, we have emotions and we do math.

Is there a sense in that? Perhaps…

I encourage you to celebrate an innovative educator in your life today. They make a difference. They make math fun and interesting and engaging.

I’m hoping this will spark a conversation and some reflections, too. I know that there are opinions out there, some very passionate ones!

Max Sterelyukhin, Southridge Senior School teacher

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An eight-week Anti-Racism Circle program will be hosted by Alexandra Neighbourhood House in April. (Contributed image)
Alexandra House to host eight-week anti-racism workshop

Program, conducted via Zoom, begins in April

A barrel racer is seen at the Cloverdale Rodeo. (Photo courtesy Cloverdale Rodeo)
Cloverdale Rodeo Country Fair postponed until later in 2021

Rodeo president say both public safety related to the pandemic and the removal of border restrictions will determine new date

A memorial to Hudson Brooks outside the South Surrey RCMP detachment. (File photo)
Officer who fatally shot Hudson Brooks recounts ‘absolutely terrifying’ incident

Const. Elizabeth Cucheran testified at coroner’s inquest Tuesday morning

File image
OUR VIEW: Surrey council pay raise in secret not a good look

As they say, in politics perception is everything

Stephen Gregorig, co-owner of Smugglers’ Trail Caskworks, holds a soon-to-be-filled can of Orion 1-1. Smugglers’ Trail is launching the beer in an effort to raise funds and awareness for Honour House—a home that supports soldiers, veterans, first responders, and their families. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
‘It’s a tip of the cap,’ Smugglers’ Trail Caskworks launches new beer to help support B.C. charity

Sales of Orion 1-1, a poppy-seed IPA, will help raise funds for Honour House

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
1 dead, 2 injured in potentially alcohol-fueled collision in North Vancouver

The collision occurred just after 11 p.m. on March 2 on Low Level Road

COVID-19 vaccines were available at a site on East Pender in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside Feb. 25. (Twitter/Sarahblyth17)
Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside residents offered $5 after getting COVID-19 vaccine

It’s an effort to ‘incentivize people to engage,’ says B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix

</p>
A survey by Statistics Canada finds Black Canadians earn less than non-visible minority Canadians despite having higher levels of education. (The Canadian Press file photo)
COVID-19 worsened unemployment picture for Black Canadians

Black Canadians also more likely to suffer other hardships

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Black Press Media files)
B.C. teacher transferred then suspended after students report feeling ‘scared, nervous’

Authorities found that teacher did not create inviting, respectful environment for students

Victoria’s Swartz Bay terminal. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries offers cheaper, prepaid fare options

Ferry service preparing for busy terminals when travel restrictions are lifted

FILE - Dolly Parton arrives at the 61st annual Grammy Awards on Feb. 10, 2019, in Los Angeles. The Grammy-winning singer, actor and humanitarian posted a video on Tuesday, March 2, 2021, of her singing just before getting her COVID-19 vaccine shot. Parton donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee for coronavirus research. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
‘Vaccine, vaccine’: Dolly sings ‘Jolene’ rewrite before shot

The Grammy-winning legend turned 75 this year

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland speaks about the Fiscal update during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday November 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
COVID-19: Wage and rent subsidies, lockdown support to be extended until June

Chrystia Freeland says now is not time to lower levels of support

Most Read