Art + Nature + Technology = Mathematics Mastery in Chile
Art, nature and technology may seem like indirect routes to helping students master math concepts, but for Hilda Flandez, the approach makes perfect sense. Flandez, a 2015 Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert, has developed a unique multi-disciplinary software that teaches students basic math concepts while developing their appreciation for art and environmental studies.
According to Flandez, “My activities emphasize developing skills for the 21st century. The students become more acute with their imagination by linking technology with the artistic aspect, and by knowing their environment — which contributes to form an artistic sense to mathematical learning.”
This interdisciplinary approach shapes creative thinking and a critical attitude. Students begin to understand the relationships among images and quantities, and when they multiply the visual elements to symbolize and count, the students grasp the concept. Just as important, they learn the significance of their environment and how technology can be applied to daily life.
Working through the National Council for Culture and Arts of Chile, Flandez has trained many of the region’s teachers in her approach, reaching over a thousand students, who are now using images to learn mathematics with technology and create works of art. She published a book featuring the approach in 2010.
What inspired you to become an educator?
My youngest son needed support in his learning, and research helped me see how he learned, so my experience with students grew to discover the power of art, images and the environment regarding all subjects. Over time, I have found it necessary to learn with the children to create the classes they need.
What was a defining moment in your career when you felt proudest to be an educator?
Working with images of the environment for learning mathematics led me to participate in calls that have allowed me to represent my country in Latin American forums and a world of innovative teachers. Microsoft enabled me to share and meet the world’s most innovative teachers.
I remember it as a very important goal, and I thought: “Everything bad that could happen to me is nothing compared to all the good that I have experienced in my work as an educator.”
Why do you feel passionate about innovation and technology in the classroom?
I am passionate about innovation because we are making changes for students looking to learn, and it is they who are motivated to investigate. So I discovered that children get excited and I’m learning and teaching with them.
Can you share a particular instance in which technology helped transform the work of your students?
The software “Urban Mathematical Drawing” is an adaptable resource for all school levels, according to the numerical environment of each class. This is a great help for children having learning problems, because they become more aware of the world where they live: the curves and straight distances.
They can quantify this world by pulling along the elements in the space in order to organize house populations, gardens, and trees, and by exercising processes linked to multiplication by ordering in rows and columns, which is complemented with a didactic strategy in the classroom and out of it.
As a pedagogical tool, knowing the world where you live puts forward an integral view of the space, allowing students to interact in a direct way with the phenomena of nature and society. They are analyzed as a whole; thus, the students perceive the world and its elements, and they are able to evaluate the ability of observation and the analysis of the phenomena.
Whether it’s a day-to-day challenge or larger problem, what’s the biggest obstacle you or your country or region has had to overcome, or will have to overcome, to ensure a quality education for students?
In many countries, art is not considered an important subject, yet I have demonstrated that it is. My work allows artists to form and insert culture into the schools. In this way, undoubtedly, the technology-like tool has been an important bridge to innovation and, through Microsoft, I have created projects that are a support for many teachers of the world.
What is your biggest hope for today’s students?
I hope that students can take advantage of technology and not be obsessed only with games. Many children today use technology as a distraction, with many hours of games of action, and it is important that we as teachers present all the benefits the technology gives us to develop intelligence.
About Hilda Flandez Contreras
Teacher, Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert
Escuela Nueva España
Los Lagos, Chile
- Birthplace: Valdivia, Chile
- Blog URL:rmm.cl/usuarios/hflandez
- Educational background: Primary Education
- Website I check every day: http://ww.rmm.cl
- Favorite childhood memory:
- Favorite book: The Garden of the Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
- Favorite Microsoft product, tool, technology: Microsoft Office 365
- What is the best advice you have ever received? [Face your] defeats in order that you could know whom you are, how you can get up and how you will be able to go out of there.