Weekly Blogs: Oct 20th

a.       What was the most significant thing you learned in class this week?

The most significant concept I came across in class was “math as a gatekeeper.”  Although I have thought before that math was important, especially as a means for teaching general problem solving skills, I never really thought about the larger role it plays in academia, in terms of allowing or disallowing certain choices for a person.  I am still thinking about this.  It seems like a good idea to make mathematics a central pillar of public education, but it does concern me that it doesn’t yet appear to be a central pillar of becoming a teacher.  It would seem to me that if we wanted to increase the mathematics skills of our students, we would have to begin by increasing the mathematics skills of our teachers, and yet this doesn’t seem to be happening at all.

b.      What questions do you have and what do you want to learn more about?

One thing I’d really like to learn more about are programs designed to help support teachers in getting access to technology and resources for learning to use those technologies.  It seems like over time the demands being put on teachers increase.  I’d like to know if this is really the case, and if so, whether or not there is any likelihood that this extra responsibilities will be supported in the near future.  I am not sure if these are things we can cover in class or if this is something I need to investigate on my own, but through this class I am beginning to think of a teacher as someone who has to be semi-expert in half a dozen fields, all of which pay better than teaching.  Is it a good thing to perpetuate a system where people go into teaching for supposed altruistic reasons?  Or does this same system really wind up attracting “those who can’t,” as the adage goes?  I have had more than one person ask why I would bother teaching when I could make so much more money as, say, an electrical engineer.  I never have a very good answer for that one.

c.       What applications do you see to classroom practice based on what you learned?

I am not sure.  I haven’t quite worked that out yet.  GSP is cool, and I could see using that.  But I don’t know what sort of implications there are for what I’ve been talking about here, outside of trying to overcome the general apathy my students will likely have developed after eight or so years under teachers who probably hate math.  Hmm.  Maybe programs like GSP and Fathom are the key.  If we teachers had free access to cool stuff like that, it might both help make up for the discrepancy between our level of responsibility and our pay, and help overcome student dislike of all things numerical.

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