Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Misconceptions in Math Education

This is worth a read.

The great misconception about mathematics -- and it stifles and thwarts more students than any other single thing -- is the notion that mathematics is about formulas and cranking out computations. It is the unconsciously held delusion that mathematics is a set of rules and formulas that have been worked out by God knows who for God knows why, and the student's duty is to memorize all this stuff. Such students seem to feel that sometime in the future their boss will walk into the office and demand "Quick, what's the quadratic formula?" Or, "Hurry, I need to know the derivative of 3x^2 - 6x +1." There are no such employers.

Mathematics is not about answers, it's about processes.


  1. Ha! Most employers don't know what a quadratic formula is! I've impressed people--ahem, my former boss--by using the formula for volume of a cylinder. And you know my (lack of) math skills.

  2. Pretty simple reality about the similarity of life and Math. Given a problem, how will you respond? Basically, Math teaches us how to respond well with a problem. Getting the right answer with the right solution will always be a must both in Math and in life. Do you have what it takes?