Monday, August 26, 2013

Stanford University: How to Learn Math

Image from Geometry Daily.

I can’t say enough about how fantastic Jo Boaler’s online math class was. I finished it yesterday.

Jo is a Stanford University professor, and she created a free, online class for teachers and parents called How to Learn Math. Students (there were approximately 35,000 people registered) watched videos, wrote responses to prompts, and completed other tasks at their own pace. Some are still finishing; the course ends September 28.

Jo is working on a course for young people now. She has published a book called What’s Math Got To Do With It. I’m convinced that whatever Jo does in the future, it will be great. Keep an eye on her.

In a nutshell, Jo is all about dispelling myths about who is good at math and who isn’t, evangelizing about the growth mindset work of Carol Dweck, and giving teachers ideas about effective math education. She advocates for math as an inquiry activity, and really seeing it in a totally different way than most of us were taught in school and continue to teach today.

In Jo’s words:

Mathematics classrooms should be places where students believe:

  • Everyone can do well in math.
  • Mathematics problems can be solved with many different insights and methods.
  • Mistakes are valuable, they encourage brain growth and learning.
  • Mathematics will help them in their lives, not because they will see the same types of problems in the real world but because they are learning to think quantitatively and abstractly and developing an inquiry relationship with math.