Remember the Goals

Seven (?) Habits of Highly Effective Math Teaching:

Habit 2: Remember the Goals

What are the goals of your math teaching?

Are they
* to finish the book by the end of school year
* make sure the kids pass the test

or do you have goals such as
* My student can add, simplify, and multiply fractions
* My student can divide by 10, 100, and 1000.

These are all just "subgoals". But what is the ultimate goal of learning school mathematics?

Don't we want our students to be able to navigate their lives in this ever-so-complex modern world?

This involves dealing with taxes, loans, credit cards, purchases, budgeting, shopping. Our youngsters need to be able to handle money wisely.

All that requires good understanding of parts, proportions, and percents.

Another very important goal of mathematics education as a whole is to enable the students to understand information aroud us. In today's world, this includes quite a bit of scientific information. Being able to read through it and make sense of it requires knowing big and small numbers, statistics, probability, percents.

And then one more. We need to prepare our students for further studies in math and science. Not everyone ultimately needs algebra, but many do, and teens don't always know what profession they might choose or end up with.

I'd like to add one more broad goal of math education: teaching deductive reasoning. Of course geometry is a good example of this, but when taught properly, other areas of school math can be as well.

The more you can keep these big real goals in mind, the better you can connect your subgoals to them. And the more you can keep the goals and the subgoals in mind, the better teacher you will be.

For example, adding, simplifying, and multiplying fractions all connects with a broader goal of understanding parts or part and whole. It will soon lead to ratios, proportions, and percent. Also, all fraction operations are a needed basis for solving rational equations and doing the operations with rational expressions (during algebra studies).

Tying in with the goals, remember that the BOOK or CURRICULUM is just a tool to achieve the goals -- not a goal in itself. Don't ever be a slave of any math book.
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