Motion Math Blog

Math Class Needs a Makeover: Dan Meyer

“I teach high school math. I sell a product to a market that doesn’t want it, but is forced by law to buy it.”
Dan Meyer

Do you want to raise a patient problem solver, a learner who can independently formulate questions and determine the information needed to figure out problems? Here’s our friend Dan Meyer’s insightful TED talk on math education, the role of textbooks, and how students end up lacking patient problem solving skills.

Problems in textbooks offer the exact data one needs to answer the question posed – simply plug and chug. Complex problems are broken out into discrete parts, and students think only about one section at a time, without reflecting deeply on the entire problem space. With too much hand-holding, students don’t develop an intellectual palate for patient problem solving.

Meyer asks us to reflect on the real world: problems worth solving do not come with the exact, necessary data one needs to solve. As problem solvers, we may have insufficient information and need to a) figure out what information we need to solve and b) find the information we need. Or, we have too much information, we need to determine what is relevant to the problem and what isn’t.

We’re interested in what you think: What’s one activity that has helped your child or student become a more patient problem solver?

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