My philosophy on teaching and learning mathematics has evolved to become a deeply internalized understanding that learning mathematics is essential and vital to our survival and success as a human species. In the natural world outside of industrialized cities and nations, animals (predator and prey) have an inherent understanding of mathematics that allows for them to either survive or parish. They demonstrate consistently the benefits of higher numbers leading to a higher success rate of survival as a herd or numerous grouping of their species. As much as we, humans, don’t want to believe or understand that we evolved from a less intelligent animal, we do demonstrate the same patterns of behavior as other animals do, even when it comes to grouping. Mathematics is an inherent understanding by any animal or insect on our planet of security and survival when there is more than one.
I believe it is our responsibility and duty as adult humans to teach our children the importance of understanding how mathematics is and will be beneficial to them throughout their life. We, as adult humans, have to understand the importance of mathematics in order for our children to be willing recipients of its teachings. In the article by Gloria Ladson-Billings, “It Doesn’t Add Up: African American Students’ Mathematics Achievement,” the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) states that students in the United States lag behind students in other highly technological nations in mathematics and science achievement because the teachers (adult humans) are without adequate preparation in mathematics and science. I feel that statement is saying that past generations of teachers (adult humans) in the United States did a poor job delivering the knowledge of mathematics to their students, therefore, causing future generations of teachers to be inadequately prepared to teach mathematics and science. TIMSS states another reason why students in the United States lag behind other students from highly technological nations is because teachers take unimaginative approaches to teaching. The TIMSS research has also concluded that teachers in the United States are mis-assigned and textbooks are poorly constructed.
The evolution and advancement of mathematics have been misrepresented in the United States and worldwide when contributing people of different cultural ethnicities are not rightfully present in the curriculum or lessons. Multicultural education is the integration of the factual historical contributions of different cultures of colored ethnicity into the lesson or unit plan being taught so that the students can learn from their ancestral history and see themselves in positive connections to the world or context. We, as young students and humans, have to see ourselves in positive context to the world as adults so we can know how to model or guide our behavior while on our way to adulthood. The industrial society that we live in, today, don’t afford the time for adults of colored ethnicity to be able to teach their children their family and cultural background. I believe schools should be the place where those gaps are filled in. Students from colored cultural backgrounds will have a more internalized and personal connection to mathematics when they are able to learn about their historical connections to mathematics and the world. Multicultural education is an essential key to academic success for students of colored ethnicity.
I feel the learning of mathematics should be the most seamless process for any student, since understanding mathematics is an inherent ability for any animal that exist on this planet. Students should be exposed to numerous opportunities to be able to learn and comprehend the concept of more than one of something and more than one represents growth and development. Since I started with the TEEMS program here at Georgia State, I have learned how important it is for students to have the opportunity to learn mathematics through activities that require physical movement. The studies that I have read on effective pedagogy for students in mathematics and science reported the teachings that are more effective are the lessons that involve student interaction with other students in peer-to-peer learning. Other pedagogical techniques that were reported to be effective in stimulating student leaning and retention are ones that are physically engaging to students and keep their attention. Activities that require students to be hands-on with learning the lesson have been shown to keep students engaged and help the students retain the knowledge for future assessment. My philosophy on learning mathematics also includes learning how mathematics is applicable to everyday society. I feel that students need to see and understand why and how mathematics is going to apply to them personally and how mathematics is going to benefit them in their future in order for them to want to learn and retain the information. If the student is having a hard time comprehending and understanding the material and how it is taught, they will be resistant to wanting to learn and their confidence level will diminish.
I understand, now as an adult human, that mathematics teaches behavior and principles people should use to pattern their life around. What I mean by teaches behavior and principles is that the four functionalities or operations of mathematics can be simplistically divided into positive and negative. The functionalities of addition and multiplication are concepts of positive thought and the concepts of subtraction and division are functionalities of negative thought. If students (and people) are shown that everything in life can be deciphered into positive and negative and those ideas are synonymous to growth and deletion, then self-behavior patterns will be a lot more monitored and self-control will be a lot more demonstrated.