Is it easy for you or hard? Do you think it is important and why? Is it procedural or creative? Is it logical or intuitive? Is it abstract or concrete? Is it something you want to learn or something you have to learn? These are the questions I wanted answered when I asked my students to do fill in this free write using the essay “A mathematician’s Lament” by Paul Lockart.
What I received was an insight into their thinking…how they perceived math and math education. Everyone agreed math is important to learn but most of my students said we have to learn because that is what society (colleges, parents, peers) deems important. They did not see how it related to real life or whether it could ever relate to something they would care about. As an engineer and a math teacher, that was heartbreaking for me.
Now it was my duty to show them the wonders of math and its connection to their lives. Everything from game development to art projects to collecting and analyzing data about the community, it was my duty to show them the mathematics I love. I have strived to do just that this past year.
Lately, my students have been working on art project using demos. We are learning about functions and they are exploring different functions and their domains and ranges to show their creativity. This is an opportunity for them to tell me what they are passionate about and why.I have one student making a scaled working model of the solar system because he wants to be a astronaut and another drawing a beautiful whale because that is her favorite animal in the world (after cats :)). One student is tracing one of her actual sketches using functions…I knew she was artistic but I did not know she drew such beautiful sketches.
This project is reaffirming my belief in project based learning…not only because these kinds of projects gives me a chance to learn more about my students but also because they are a more realistic form of assessments. Life in the real world is rarely about taking a test but often about applying everything you learned to different situations
I would be doing the same free write with my students at the end of the school year…so that I can see how much we have all grown and learned