I’ve realized more and more how truly powerful the internet is for learning, if you want it to be. This is why I am so pleased to see that Google+ is available to the public today. Aside from its innovative privacy settings and excellent video chat, Google+ is social media right there with your gmail, google docs, and reader. (If you don’t have some of this stuff, you may be missing out, especially if you seriously want to get into something.) Google+ and Twitter are now central to the way I grow as a mathematician and a teacher. I once heard, “Facebook is for the people you went to high school with. Google+ is for the people you wish you went to high school with. G+ is for people you want to talk with over coffee, and Facebook is for people you wouldn’t meet for coffee if they were in the same town.
Two great places for exchanging ideas are the #edchat and #mathchat on Twitter. Tonight’s question was, “If you could clear one misconception about mathematics and/or teaching it, what would it be?” (Share your own in the comments?) I found this more enticing than my Field Theory class, so I fired a few off. Thought I’d share this mini-manifesto. (140 characters at a time)
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must change misconception: geniuses do real math. Otherwise math is math class.
you have to get As and 800s to do math or like math.
you’ve gotta climb the ladder to get to the good stuff in math.
you need the high school math to do ______ And you definitely can’t study topology until ______!
you’re either an applied person or a pure math person. Bleh.
math is math class and homework should look like homework.
you really need to know algebra for the real world.
fractions are wrong if their not reduced.
practice is the best way to get better. (personal experience actually is)
you have to play the role of “teacher” to get class to work.
must change misconception: “there are problems I need to solve, and I need someone to show me how to do that.” – Salman Khan! No joke!
“they” write the problems. I just answer them. Can we tell what “they’re” asking?
must realize: math is made by humans like the ones in the classroom. So let’s make math.
must change misconception: it’s ok to say “I’m so dumb at math. I’m not just not a math person.” especially for kids
stick to the book or you’re in trouble (aka I don’t trust you)
go with your first instinct. Your second is wrong (aka don’t trust yourself)
you need the teacher to learn math. You need school to learn math.
texting in class is bad. (I’m in field theory class enjoying this much more)
-@ColinTGraham: “OK I AM SHOUTING NOW… YOU GET TO CHOOSE ONE MISCONCEPTION PEOPLE… Phew… CAPS lock off…”
oh ok. Boo! Too many to choose. How about this one: you can tweet forever without battery death. (I have to go)
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Lots of old thoughts there, and I could include links to old posts, but this is already too self-indulgent.
The preponderance of general misconceptions about math seems so overwhelming and frustrating at times. A large part of my teaching is an attempt to give math a good name with my students by showing them mathematical traits and habits already within them. This is my little force against the mathematical boogeyman. I’m glad I got some of that off my chest.