Sunday, September 23, 2007

Small Math

The idea of "small math" has been bopping around in my head for about two months now. What is "small Math"? Technically "small math" is a neurological syndrome named mathminuitis. I affects roughly 75% of all students ages 8-21. Symptoms include

* A desire to learn the minimum amount of math necessary to pass the next test, period.

* A belief that roughly 70% of the material studied in math course is superfluous, and can be more easily solved by cross-multiplying (whatever that means).

* A belief that all math is a series of fun mnemonic devices such as: FOIL, and "Don't ask why, just flip the second and multiply".

So far, there is no known course of treatment. Though many believe that by focusing on understanding what math is truly about, by including greater and greater amounts of applications within the mathematics curriculum, we can begin to stop the spread of this syndrome.

The most worriesome part to the trend for me is the number of math teachers that seem to show signs of coming down with mathminuitis. These teachers believe that the by shrinking the curriculum, by focusing on rote algorithms that have cute sayings attached we can create some worthwhile learning clearly are suffering from mathminuitis.


loonyhiker said...

This was great! I have to admit that when I was in high school I believe I had this affliction. Hopefully I grew out of it.

Unknown said...

Glad you enjoyed it. I am quite sure that a lot of people have had this affliction in high school, and that this is a big part of the problem with math education today.