“It bothers me that we bring math from the real world into the classroom by way of textbooks on paper, where the problems…look lifeless on the page.” – Dan Meyer, USA
We all know that STEM subjects are essential in the 21st century workplace. We also know that these subjects – particularly math – are often overlooked or even avoided by students. Let’s face it: math class doesn’t have the greatest reputation. But Dan Meyer is on a mission to change that.
By reimagining the way we think about and practice teaching math, Meyer is making math the engaging subject it should be – and his work is getting noticed. From his very popular TED Talk, Math class needs a makeover, to national awards received for integrating multimedia with mathematics and media appearances, Meyer is having an impact. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to talk to him recently.
Meyer was a math teacher for six years, so he’s experienced first-hand the challenges of getting kids excited about what has typically been a dry subject. He’s a firm believer in teachers practicing – and being enthusiasts for – their subjects, and he’s now doing just that by pursuing his PhD in math education at Stanford University. He’s also sharing his perspective as a consultant to educational publishers.
“It bothers me that we bring math from the real world into the classroom by way of textbooks on paper, where the problems…look lifeless on the page,” Meyer says. “So a lot of my work is in how to make math – as it’s done in the world – more meaningful to kids.”
This quest for relevance plagues many a math teacher, and Meyer believes that kids don’t ask, “When will I ever use this?” because they actually want to know the answer. Rather, Meyer says, they’re expressing dissatisfaction with the way the material is being presented. And, as he notes, “Kids are not so easily fooled into enjoying algebra.”
From his work as a curriculum consultant, Meyer is convinced that this is an exciting time for education – if a bit of a “wild west” for innovation. “As we go to 1:1, curriculum has stayed the same,” he notes, referring to the limited ways technology has been used in many classes (PDFs vs. paper). “I’m excited about the different ways we can make our curriculum, our textbooks, mimic what kids love about the social web…it’s connections, it’s bringing people together…within a mathematical text book. The sky’s the limit.”
After talking to Meyer, and the many other creative math teachers around the world who are working to revolutionize math instruction, I’m excited, too. Enjoy today’s Daily Edventure with Dan Meyer, one of Tech & Learning’s 30 Leaders of the Future.