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Monday, November 2, 2015

Maths is beautiful and fun. People shouldn't be made to hate it...

The next time someone asks me to define "pedantic", I'm going to show them this - the teacher's response to this child's answer would seem to provide a classic example of pedantic behaviour.

Is this that whole "common core" math program? It seems like the biggest waste of time. Mathematics was taught better decades ago.
I start an all-out brawl on the topic of maths. Did you know that girls score higher in maths on average until the age of 12? That's when people start telling us that girls are bad at maths and we must be pretty instead of smart.

I'm actually one of the few people that say that teaching application and showing students the usefulness of maths is actually bad for their enthusiasm. The best part of maths is its beauty, not its usefulness.

I don't blame the teacher, I blame the way teachers are taught to teach. Clearly, the purpose of the lesson in this case was '5x3 should be thought of as 5 lots of 3'. It should, therefore, be expressed as such in the student's working.
Of course, the whole teaching system is stupid. The student completely understands the maths behind the whole problem.
It's also clear he/she realises multiplication works both ways (5x3=3x5).
But the teacher has a marking guide to follow... A marking guide that's been dumber down so much that it insists students have to do maths the 'right way' - by which it means with one very particular, overly pedantic method.

The problem is that the teacher doesn't understand the commutative rule for multiplication or maybe the creator of the marking guide. 
In any case, there is no mathematically dictated vertical vs. horizontal relationship between the first and second operands of multiplication so there are no grounds for claiming that the student was wrong.

Actually the child did perform both of the specific methods that were required. It just did them differently to the way the teacher understood as correct. 
So the poor kid lost both marks.

The student has been punished for deviating from the accepted way of tackling the problem, despite those deviations being completely trivial and inconsequential towards getting the right answer.
The errors are in the methodology, not in the answers. It's very prevalent in modern education that marks are given for the 'correct working', not for the answer itself. 
Obviously if you have the correct working, necessarily the answer will be correct. What I disagree with is the thing we see here, where alternative ways of answering the question are penalised, despite being accurate.

So the point that I am stressing here is when we use our brain we can get there even if we took a different root than others but we will get there, and NO ONE can tell us that we are wrong!

love light and peace