First off, a bit of a funny story. The high school math teacher interviewed by Rex in the podcast happens to be my cooperating teacher!! I had no idea this was going to be the case when I blogged about the show last week. In fact, I didn’t know about it until today when some teachers were talking about the episode at work, however, I hadn’t listened to the episode yet. I actually didn’t plan to listen to it until next week when I had more time, but after learning that my co-operating teacher was interviewed, I took the time to listen to it today.
The show was a bit repetitive but I got through it. Right now, I don’t want to wade into the debate around best pedagogical practices, but one thing that comes across to me is that math education is a passionate topic. For many, perhaps most people, it’s a reminder of personal anxiety and failure, and helplessness with their own struggling children.
I’m starting to think the debate about standard algorithms versus concepts might be a sideshow to the real question, which is how do you reduce anxiety surrounding math and still teach it? The answer I and everyone else doesn’t want to hear, but might be unavoidable, is that math is a brutally unforgiving subject, and that’s just the way it is.