A Word-Problem World: A World of Mathematical Meaning
by Jeremiah Dyke
by Jeremiah Dyke: Math
by Hand, Math by Calculator
have a rare and terrific opportunity denied to most math students
throughout the country. Homeschoolers possess the ability to finally
relate to mathematics in both a meaningful and instructive way by
creating applications to which a solution has relevance to the student;
a solution worth deriving.
public educator will complain that their students care nothing about
how they derived an answer, they simply want to get there. However,
what you normally never hear from those on the front lines of education
is why they are asking this question, or, is it even a question
answering? It is true that students may be apathetic toward
how they derived their answers, yet, what we fail to understand
is this reflects less so on them and more so on the quality of the
question. Good educators have become masters at making questions
relevant to their students. Students do much better when the application
matters, in fact, if the question is interesting enough, they may
be excited to answer it! Even something as simple as adding colorful
pictures to a page of drill-and-kill exercises will make the students
work harder than without them.
it wrong to expect more from a math
we have is that students today are too far removed from the study
of math. For most, math is simply a cluster of slightly varied problems
to be done in repetition until mastered. At best, the student can
hope that someone, somewhere, will ask them for help on their homework
problems, as far as possessing the ability to solve a real-life
problem...forget about it! So, page after page, worksheet after
worksheet, drill after drill, students dull their pencils in hopes
of never seeing their teachersí red ink. What nonsense is this?
How are students to learn meaning by simply regurgitating steps
Ė as if mathematics were a large set of multiplication tables to
This is where
the homeschooling advantage comes in!
to a student or homeschooling parent is to eliminate every math
problem from your textbook, and I dare say from your life, except
those with a purpose i.e. those that involve a purposeful application.
Make every problem, from k-12, a real life word problem. One that
involves using math and analysis to reach a solution.
Itís no longer
what is "2 + 3"? Instead itís, "if I had two apples
and added three more how many apples would I now have"?
Itís no longer,
what percentage is 12/15? Itís, "If Edward always gets 100%
on Biology tests, Bella, however, answered 12 out of 15 questions
correct. What percentage did Bella get right?"(click for more
there is no need to follow our stateís math curriculum. Math need
not be segregated into little subjects called pre-algebra, algebra,
algebra II, geometry, etc. Follow your interests! If you, like Bill
Friedman (son of David Friedman, grandson of Milton Friedman) find
yourself enjoying probability more than other math subjects simply
because it gives you an advantage in board games with your friends,
then pursue it! You are simply filling your toolbox with more math
skills, and, eventually you will find benefit in other branches
Do this and
not only will your students or children have a better understanding
of mathematical principles, they will finally see the relevance
in math and you know, they may actually start liking it!
Dyke [send him mail]
an adjunct professor of mathematics at LFCC, author of the children's
math book Do
Natural Numbers Ever Wonder Whatís UnNatural and founder
of Hands on Math.
2011 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part
is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.