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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Teaching Math: Changing Education

Photo: Jonathan Lash
Jonathan Lash, president of Hampshire College in Amherst, MA writes, "My last post looked at math as part of an inquiry-driven, interdisciplinary curriculum, with the focus on the individual learner's questions and needs. Let's turn now to some of the values and aspirations informing that approach -- inclusion, inspiration, empowerment, and positive change."

Who does math? Or, of more immediate significance to students, who teaches math? Two math professors are on Hampshire's faculty, Sarah Hews and Geremías Polanco Encarnación. Together, they present a richness of models of who does math, including women, people of color, international scholars, and first-generation scholars. They inspire 
and empower students by who they are and by how they teach.

Professors who don't need to check off boxes or compare performance can concentrate on assisting students in developing the skills and confidence to grow as independent learners. Yes, students learn content, but also much more. They learn to take ownership of their own education and how to negotiate with their professors and others as they progress.

With all the basic courses and resources now available online, teaching math is no longer just providing content. Professors can point students toward online materials that will assist them in learning concepts or filling in gaps.

Many times, pooled resources are available in educational settings. In addition to classes on campus and online materials, our students can enroll in courses at any of the other schools in the Five College consortium, greatly expanding their options. The negotiating skills they build as they move through an individualized program are quickly put to use incorporating resources across the consortium into their studies.

Source: Huffington Post