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Monday, May 16, 2016

How Math Education is Changing

In a culture that focuses on fast paced innovations, various aspects in our lives are constantly changing. It seems like every few months the newest phone, car, appliance is released. It can be exhausting and expensive to keep up, however we are all a little guilty of wanting to be constantly updated. Along with technological innovations there is no denying that education techniques and standards are also advancing. The disparity in just the last generation alone is astonishing. Classrooms have transformed from blackboards to smart boards, paper to laptops and textbooks to online resources. Parents and teachers often find themselves wondering, whatever happened to using a good old-fashioned No. 2 pencil?

To focus specifically on math in the classroom, a lot more has changed than just the tools used. The expectations facing 21st century students are constantly rising, and as a result teachers are raising the bar. Heres a few ways teachers and professors have altered the way they teach to fit the new standard:

1) Higher academic standards

Academic milestones need to be reached at much younger ages. This essentially means students need to develop a more wholesome understanding of what they are learning. According to the Common Core State Standards, "the idea is that the higher academic standards will ensure students are adequately prepared for college and the careers of the 21st century."

2) Digital Math

Technology, especially computers/cell-phones are second nature to most students who in this generation are coined to be "digital natives." Teachers are turning to digital math resources and adaptive leaning systems to engage students and make math enjoyable.

The Center of Math is centered around accessible and affordable digital textbooks. As we are in the height of the digital age, several teachers and students have decided to make the switch from print to digital. To view our digital resources click here.

3) Emphasis on the "why" and the "how"

Many see math as just a pointless subject consisting solely on memorizing formulas. Now more than ever, teachers are focusing much more on the reasoning behind a specific theories/formulas. Students are expected to not only master mathematical concepts, but also understand the reasoning behind them.

4) College on the horizon

It was not always the case that 70 percent of high school graduates attended college. The norm for students no more than 50 years ago was to stop at a high school degree, a much smaller percentage attended college. Teachers now must focus on catering their curriculum to serve students past the 12th grade.

5) Real-world applications

Recently math education has made the shift from being considered an abstract concept filled with formulas and theories to a concrete subject focusing on skills that can be applied to the real world. Teachers are shifting from more traditional curriculums and are beginning to incorporate real-life applications into their math classrooms.

6) Allow students to explore

Learning is dynamic, rather than static. It used to be that children were asked to repeat math concepts until their responses were automatic, multiplication tables ring a bell? Now, students are getting pushed to limits where they are encouraged to explore ideas and experiment with different avenues of the subject.

7) Link between researches and educators 

Teachers and researches are now encouraged to collaborate to produce data that can help improve education. Math education is always changing. To ensure it is moving in the right direction a researchers' input is necessary to better math studies.

8) Changing perceptions of math

Research has shown that how children view their math capabilities has an effect on their success. Students willing to take higher-level math is directly correlated with their self-esteem as learners. Teachers are working to transform math from a "scary" subject into something that is approachable and useful for students, so they can develop the confidence they need to be successful.


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