Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Elevator Speech Challenge: Day 6
Today's question isn't so hypothetical. It was inspired by a wonderful conversation I had with a concerned parent.
HYPOTHETICAL QUESTION: “Duane…come on…why does my child’s teacher teach multiple ways to solve everything. Isn’t that confusing? Shouldn’t we just expect our students to learn the ‘regular’ way and then move on?”
My Elevator Speech: Great question. It is important to understand that there is a clear distinction between “getting the problem right” and “understanding the mathematics”. With our old standards it was commonplace for the teacher to show the class how to solve a problem and then give 20 identical problems to practice. Solving 20 identical problems does not mean a student understands it. The Common Core math standards are organized to allow students time to go into each topic deeply. Students are encouraged to solve a problem in multiple ways and share those methods with each other. Students learn not only from the teacher, but also from each other. The idea of solving a math problem in multiple ways is the very essence of mathematics itself; for example, the Pythagorean Theorem has been proven (solved) in more than 300 different ways! By teaching students multiple solution methods, we are teaching students the very essence of mathematics.
Does this elevator speech need additional solutions? Feel free to suggest something in the comments section.