Tuesday, February 15, 2011
The book "The Global Achievement Gap" has really given me a shot in the arm to keep trying new things. Three years ago I observed my first Inquiry-Based math classroom and I was blown away! I saw students working in teams (not rows?) and I heard students talking to each other about a problem. You could literally hear them thinking through a problem! They were offering ideas about how solve the problem. I believe that teaching mathematics is a great metaphor (metaphor?) for this book. There is literally a civil war right now among math teachers across the nation. At my school it is divided exactly in half (3 to 3) as to how many teachers are still teaching math as if it were 1950 (I'm not being very judgemental am I?) and how many teachers are trying Inquiry-Based Mathematics. Inquiry-Based Mathematics falls right in line with what Tony Wagner is talking about. The 7 essential survival skills are all present with inquiry-based math. Teamwork, Problem Solving, Critical Thinking, Communication, etc. None of which you would get from a lecture. Some teachers just don't want to change. Others believe (rightfully so) that they are handcuffed to teaching the Content Standards so that their schools can get off "Alert Status". The United States has always been an inch deep and a mile wide when it comes to teaching math. It is impossible to teach every skill/standard in 52 minute classes for 36 weeks. We must start teaching kids how to think critically for themselves, how to try and tackle a problem with their own methods rather than one that was memorized without understanding, and how to communicate their ideas and their thinking both verbally and on paper. It just amazes me that schools are the only industry that haven't changed significantly since the industrial revolution.