Are you math literate?

People engage in activities where “individuals have learned to participate, rather than on knowledge that they have acquired.” As a teacher, I see those times that children are performing a memorized algorithm that carries as much meaning for them as teaching my beloved puppy to roll over for a treat. In the past, my best students did not like problems that require explanation because they were good at performing, not understanding (and they did not like anything that would destroy their A average).

My special goal this year is to encourage a fear-free exploration of what algebra really is, not just the rules for answering the Chinese questions. We will see. This parable is shockingly accurate for what I see that math has become. I am looking for ways to incorporate the term “literacy” in my math classes. The reading for understanding won’t be taking complicated texts about math and annotating them. Literacy in math is about understanding the numbers themselves and how and why they work in the beautiful and logical and intricate patterns in which we find them. So, literacy in math isn’t words, it is numbers! Have a 6 day!

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One thought on “Are you math literate?

  1. You write “So, literacy in math isn’t words, it is numbers! ”
    I see this as the real meaning of “numeracy”. To me literacy in math is being able to read the symbolic stuff with understanding of its full meaning, to be able to say what y = mx + c is saying, and to put it into words. I used to tell my very non-mathematical students what it was like before the Arabs introduced algebra – painfully hard work. Many students stick to the rules and apply them with almost no idea what they are doing. They don’t see algebra as a symbolic and very cryptic code that actually has any “normal” meaning. the unfortunate thing is that they can still get A’s this way. One hopes that the CCSS math approach will be put into practice “properly”, but I can still visualise a teacher saying “Now you are going to learn the explanation”.

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