Keila's Blog

Monday, June 12, 2006

Interesting Math Article

I recently read an article entitled, Why Do So Many Students Perform So Poorly in Higher-Level Mathematics, in the February 2003 issue of the NCTM- Mathematics Teacher Journal. This article encourages teachers and parents to make it clear to students that it must be understood that the college prep high school mathematics curriculum is not one intended for the average teenager. School administrators and teachers should warn average students enrolling in high-level mathematics courses that, unless the students are willing to approach these courses with appropriate drive and maturity, they are setting the stage for discouragement, disappointment and ultimately failure. When students fail, more often than not, that anger and frustration is directed at the teacher, when it is the parents who have enrolled their child in these courses and are not giving them the extra support that they need. Risher makes an excellent observation when she says that, “upper-level mathematics courses are not spectator sports. They require action and constant exercise.” She also goes on to explain that a teacher can model the exercises and demonstrate proper form and strategy, but the “fitness” of a student becoming stronger in math depends upon how much they want to swear through it. The exercise of ingraining math into a students head must be done daily.

How this article affects me and other educators?
The analogy that the author uses comparing learning and getting better at math too learning and getting better at a sport is explained well. How does one expect to get better at a sport or at playing an instrument or at dancing without practicing over and over again? How does one expect to get better at math without practicing problem over and over again?
While reading the article, I noticed that throughout the article while she was explaining that the “average teenager” should not take higher level math, she ultimately never explained the definition of an “average teenager”. Risher also explains that the argument posed by some educators—that students will endeavor to meet the higher expectations that teachers set—falls flat. I for one was forced to take higher level math per the request of my mom. At times I was a little bit slower than the other students with understanding the information, but at other times I was right on level with them. With a little bit of extra


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