A Student's View on Teaching Math

For their homework in math class last night, 8th grade students read a recent New York Times opinion piece titled "The Wrong Way to Teach Math," and they responded with their reaction and the ideas that the article brought up for them.

Willow V.'s response is below.

“There are two main ideas that I got out of this article. The first is that math class needs to involve more real life situations, so that students can better learn how to use math in real life. The author mentions that a lot of American adults have trouble understanding the math that they learn in school, and that math should be taught in a way that will stick with the students into their adult life.

"The second is very similar, but I think it's important to mention. It's that students 'can’t see how such formulas connect with the lives they’ll be leading,' and therefore should be taught things that might prove more useful to them in their adult life. I agree, but I think that where we disagree is that this is already kind of the case. Not that I will have all of the formulas and concepts and rules I learn in math memorized for the rest of my life; because I can positively say I most definitely will not. I think that what sticks with a person is the ability to learn something, understand something, or figure something out.

"The concepts that you learn from math class in your adult life are not the formulas you've memorized but, at least for me, the ability to look at a math problem that I've never seen before out how to solve it based on other things that I've learned in the past. I think that there are a lot of things that people have wrong about education, but I don't think that math class is one of them. For me, math has become a creative process, and I now have skills that will stick with me forever because when I was first introduced to the concept I had the opportunity to look at the problem and see what I could do with it. Just like with music, art, writing, anything; if it is taught in an interesting and engaging way for the students, it will become a creative process.”