Charles Fadel (Opening Address)
Michael Kaplan (Probabilistic Reasoning)
"The less we know about a subject, the more certain we are about our opinions. It's the way our thrifty brains save our precious mental resources. But when we know what we are talking about, we willingly acknowledge complexity and uncertainty."
"Too often we fail to engage students in the uncertainty and complexity of problems and, instead, we treat them as a receptacle."
"Mathematics should be useful, we are told....but useful to whom?"
"We make a sad mistake when we propose that studying mathematics will lead to dream careers."
"So much effort in repetition designed to get some idea in the mind of a student is time wasted."
He said much more, but these were the quotes that caught my attention. Lots to think about here.
Jon Star (Cognition and Neuroscience)
Keith Devlin (Mathematical Thinking)
Sverker Lundin (The Drift Towards Purity)
1. be careful about higher goals in education (democracy, thinking, etc)
2. think about how what students do in schools could lead to these goals...expect no magic from the subject matter of mathematics
3. open up for other ways of approaching mathematics than through tool-free pure problem solving
4. we have inherited a problem AND its solution...we should rethink both
Conrad Wolfram (Stop Teaching Calculating, Start Teaching Math)
Merrilea Mayo (What Math Do People Use in the Workplace)
- correlation between education and career readiness/success is 0.1 (almost none)
- more than 90% of people will never use more than 6th grade level mathematics
- in practice, even engineers were not using differential equations...the software was
- found that people were learning their "applied math" outside of school
- evidence to suggest that taking math does not mean you know/can apply it
Bryan Meyer <-- That's ME! (Interdisciplinary Education)
1. How/Who decides what counts as mathematical knowledge and/or mathematical activity? What are the benefits and consequences of how we answer that question?
2. Is it "inter"disciplinary education that we are after or is it "anti/un"disciplinary education? What are the benefits and consequences of defining a discipline of mathematics?
3. Related to both above, should we operate under the goal of "mathematics for all" or "all people are mathematical?" How will our actions be affected by the place that we choose to operate from?
So....What Did I Learn?
1. I have been thinking A LOT about the reasons we hear/accept/give ourselves for why we teach math. Many of the common ones were subtly brought into question by a few speakers. I'm not going to give my thoughts on that here and now, but I think it is worth considering. I also think it is worth considering how our answer to that question might impact our work with students...for better or worse? When we push towards something, what are the effects of that pushing?
2. The conference was premised on "what should students learn in the 21st century?" That's a big question and I just never felt settled on the idea that changing what students should learn will somehow change anything at all. I guess I'm left wondering and thinking about what it is we want to change in math education? Enjoyment? "Success?" Something else?
Not sure....still lots to think about I guess.
p.s. Conference session slides and notes are available here if you are interested.