Math: Where’s The Love?

As the media slowly starts to talk about EQAO math scores in my province and in my city, one question has been on repeat in the back of my mind:  

How can we help kids love math?

A lot of attention is being placed upon mathematics pedagogy and student engagement.  The number crunchers are looking at particular areas of focus and need.  Reformers are fighting a battle around new visions for math.  And I keep wondering… how can we help kids love math?

So far, the best answer that I can find is coming from people like Jo Boaler who advocate for math classrooms with growth mindsets:

That’s great, but it’s not enough.  Jo says “yes you can” not “look how awesome this is”. 

Math in Ontario has lost its soul.  It’s wounded, and it seems that the more we analyze it, the more that we pick at its scabs.  

Instead of addressing student shortcomings in proportional reasoning by changing the work that we give students, why don’t we teach them about Le Corbusier and Dali.  Why don’t we teach them about the golden ratio, and mathematical beauty?

Instead of talking about algebra as a way to “notice patterns and generalize from them”, maybe we should talk to our students about Alan Turing and the Enigma code:

Math is beautiful and interesting.  Our textbooks and lessons are slowly killing it.  Maybe that is what EQAO is actually revealing.

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