Kids love math until… they don’t. They meet the multiplication table, or fractions, or was it trig for you? Were you that early math genius until fourth grade when your parents forced you to do Kumon?
"oh anything but math, my kid is better than I am", said a parent, now facing her nightmares while helping her child do homework. She gets flashbacks to all that negative feeling she carried around with her in math class, sweaty palms, rechecking answers and getting new equivalents, age problems you will never ever use in real life… the world is spinning.
I remember having a teacher tell my freshman class “well the chinese schools will always do better at math than we will” and that just set a ceiling to all our abilities without even starting the class. GAH!
A Stanford MOOC that changed the way I think of math, teaching it, and learning more about it, just launched a website tadaaaa: http://youcubed.org/.
Here is the list of positive norms to set up a great classroom culture around math. Because let’s face it, most kids are not bad at math… we were just taught to hate it.
When I see a test paper where a student gave up at #2 it’s not because they can’t, but because they won’t. It’s breaking through that mindset that’s the first challenge.
I’m cheating and letting you read the back of the book (I copy pasted those norms below as a teaser),
Positive Norms to Encourage in Math Class
By Jo Boaler
1. Everyone Can Learn Math to the Highest Levels.
Encourage students to believe in themselves. There is no such thing as a “math” person. Everyone can reach the highest levels they want to, with hard work.
2. Mistakes are valuable
Mistakes grow your brain! It is good to struggle and make mistakes.
3. Questions are Really Important
Always ask questions, always answer questions.
Ask yourself: why does that make sense?
4. Math is about Creativity and Making Sense.
Math is a very creative subject that is, at its core,
about visualizing patterns and creating solution paths that others can see, discuss and critique.
5. Math is about Connections and Communicating
Math is a connected subject, and a form of communication. Represent math in different forms eg words, a picture, a graph, an equation, and link them. Color code!
6. Depth is much more important than speed.
Top mathematicians, such as Laurent Schwartz, think slowly and deeply.
7. Math Class is about Learning not Performing
Math is a growth subject, it takes time to learn and it is all about effort.