Elementary Teacher Education

Unfortunately, this is all too believable:

Received an email from a parent.

Not one of our students, but rather the parent of a high school student who plans to attend this university. The parent is looking for advice on how to get the kid out of math. Seems that the kid has already taken the bare minimum number of units of high school math needed for graduation and has stopped taking math. The parent is wondering if the kid can take some sort of test (before forgetting any more math) to fulfill the university’s math requirement.

Guess what career the kid is planning on? School teacher.

From Rudbeckia Hirta at Learning Curves.


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It’s Elementary (School), My Dear Watson

[Rescued from my old blog.]

From Time magazine, June 18, 1956:

“[M]athematics has the dubious honor of being the least popular subject in the curriculum… Future teachers pass through the elementary schools learning to detest mathematics… They return to the elementary school to teach a new generation to detest it.”

Quoted by George Polya in How to Solve It. I finally got my very own copy of this excellent book, so I can quit pestering the librarian to let me order it from library loan again…

Blogger Rudbeckia Hirta teaches math to pre-service teachers, and it seems that not much has changed since 1956. Hirta says the test answers shown were representative of her class — for instance, 25% of her students missed the juice problem. Too bad these students never read Polya’s book, in which he discusses a four-step method for solving problems. Step four is to look back and ask yourself whether the answer makes sense. Good advice!

Continue reading It’s Elementary (School), My Dear Watson