Saturday, August 14, 2010

More Equals Signs

Previously I wrote about students not using equals signs properly. So apparently some guys at Texas A&M are getting papers published on this subject, and identifying it as a key way to distinguish between high-functioning and low-functioning math students and national education systems.

Reported is stuff like: "The two researchers suggest using mathematics manipulatives". I disagree. The problem is not lack of manipulatives. The problem is that nobody ever told students what the fucking equals sign means.

I'm semi-convinced that a greater emphasis needs to be paid on the physical syntax and grammar of writing (and as a result, reading) mathematics by students throughout the education system. But that's me.

1 comment:

  1. I'm with both of y'alls. An awful lot of my students have no idea that an equation is something to be *read* and figured out... instead of a jigsaw puzzle where you push things around. Lots of them do a whole lot better -- but it takes practice -- when I emphasize the meaning of the symbols.
    Some of them, however, really do need a concrete reference to make that meaning thing happen.
    Unfortunately, most people who drag out the m anipulatives drag 'em out, do stuff with them, then hand out problems and hope the student figures out the connection.
    One of our profs handed out little cereal boxes & drink boxes to her pre-algebra class to figure out their volumes. At least a third of them had absolutely *no* idea that this was what the formula they'd just done on three homework assignments was talking about.