As many of you don't know...what with most of you just meeting me for the first time and all...I am currently an Undergrad in the school of Math at Purdue who is pursuing a degree in Math Education (because, frankly, it's running away from me and I really want to catch it.)
What this means, for those of you who are not both studying at Purdue OR in a secondary education major, is that I am a Math student who is forced to take six relatively perfunctory education classes in addition to nearly ALL the math classes.
As a result of this particularly rigorous number of math classes (and a few awesome ones I've taken just for the lulz), I've been given a very good understanding of what is necessary to come into these classes and not leave the room crying every day. Let's just say, I didn't have a very excellent background in Math before I came to Purdue and started off on my path to become a math teacher (after, of course, a year and a half detour through the Chemical Engineering department. *sadface*).
Granted, my Calculus and Trig. skills are fantastic, my Algebra skills are awesome, and my Geometry skills are...well, not awesome but I made it through the class and, by the end, had totally made up for the terrible beginning.
“But...but Mark!” You say. “Isn't that Math?”
Those things are the sum total of Math in the same way that taking baking soda and vinegar and mixing them together is chemistry.
Sure...these are things you do IN math and things that require math but what is missing is the theoretical aspect.
WHY do these things do what they do? Why does the Calculus do what it is supposed to?
This part of math is called “Analysis.” It mostly consists of “Proofs.” That is to say, the mathematic reasoning behind a given theorem.
The problem is that back in high school (and it seems most high schools nowadays) provide little to no actual analysis backing...specifically because of how state standards are set up. In order to continue functioning as a school, its students must score at certain levels on their standardized tests. As a result, teachers don't always have the option of including logical reasoning and proof as a part of their curriculum.
This is really freaking sad.
To me, this strips Math of all of its science! There is no inquiry. It's just become history with numbers.
This next semester, I will be teaching a class here at Purdue. MA 153 for those in the know and Algebra and Trigonometry I for those who aren't.
I fully intend to sneak in as much logic and reasoning as I possibly can. My students will not just know WHAT they're doing, but I'll actually explain to them WHY they're doing what they're doing and WHERE it comes from so they can understand HOW to do it on a higher level than they might were they just to get equations and algorithms thrown at them.
Until later, this is Mark signing off!