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Saturday, December 29, 2018

​Why this math lecturer says it’s increasingly hard to teach millennial minds | Big Think

  • Mathematics lecturer noticed the changes in her students after returning to teaching after a five-year break.
  • She says her students and noticeably less engaged, increasingly on their smartphones or computers, and ask more "stupid questions."
  • A batch of results from an ongoing National Institutes of Health study recently showed alarming results about the impacts that screen use has on developing brains.

Clio Cresswell, member of the Applied Mathematics Research Group, carrying out research in the area of Integrable Systems says her undergraduate students show a diminished capability for "linked thinking."

Clio Cresswell, a mathematics lecturer at the University of Sydney and author of Mathematics and Sex, recently returned to the classroom after a five-year break from teaching math.

But when she returned, she noticed an immediate difference in the ways in which her undergraduate students engaged the class and material: They showed a diminishing capability for "linked thinking," which is presumably the ability to connect and make use of concepts from various domains, similar to abstract thinking.

"These days students are so busy posting on social media — 'love the burger', 'great fries' — that if something tragic happens to a loved one they struggle to understand why they're feeling the way they do," Cresswell told The Weekend Australian. "They've trained themselves in first-step thinking. Their worlds are constructed of disconnected moments."

Whether increased technology use is making students less able or likely to engage in linked thinking, or other modes of thinking, is unclear. But Cresswell said that, in her classrooms at least, she's noticed that students have become markedly more passive...

Cresswell said this portends a major problem: Our society, which is increasingly dependent on technology and algorithms, might soon be divided into two groups: the few who understand math, and the vast majority to whom it's a mystery.

Source: Big Think