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The Beauty of Mathematics

News Week – Vicky Neale

“For many people, memories of maths lessons at school are anything but pretty. Yet “beautiful” is a word that I and other mathematicians often use to describe our subject. How on earth can maths be beautiful—and does it matter? For me, as a mathematician, it is hugely important. My enjoyment of the beauty of mathematics is part of what motivates me to study the subject. It is also a guide when I am working on a problem: If I think of a few strategies, I will choose the one that seems most elegant first. And if my solution seems clumsy then I will revisit it to try to make it more attractive.”(more)

A mathematician has created a teaching method that’s proving there’s no such thing as a bad math student

Quartz – Jenny Anderson

“Math is a notoriously hard subject for many kids and adults. There is a gender gap, a race gap, and just generally bad performance in many countries. John Mighton, a Canadian playwright, author, and math tutor who struggled with math himself, has designed a teaching program that has some of the worst-performing math students performing well and actually enjoying math. There’s mounting evidence that the method works for all kids of all abilities. His program, JUMP (Junior Undiscovered Math Prodigies) Math, is being used by 15,000 kids in eight US states (it is aligned with the Common Core), more than 150,000 in Canada, and about 12,000 in Spain. The US Department of Education found it promising enough to give a $2.75 million grant in 2012 to Tracy Solomon and Rosemary Tannock, cognitive scientists at the Hospital for Sick Children and the University of Toronto, to conduct a randomized control trial with 1,100 kids and 40 classrooms.”(more)

Beyond ‘Hidden Figures’: Nurturing New Black and Latino Math Whizzes

The New York Times – Amy Harmon

“The extreme racial homogeneity in the rarefied realm of young math wizards has drawn little attention in a nation where racial equality in the basic institutions of civic life — schools, housing, health care, policing — remains elusive. But it has become an increasing source of consternation for some mathematicians, educators and business leaders, who see it directly linked to the striking underrepresentation of blacks and Latinos in high-paying, high-status jobs in finance, science and technology. As those occupations increasingly propel our society, they fear that enrichment programs for mathematically gifted children, while rooted in meritocratic ideals, have become a particularly potent means of reinforcing privilege.”(more)

‘Attitudes’ key to improving Ontario math scores, says expert

CBC – Staff Writer

“A Wilfrid Laurier math professor and co-director of a group of educators tasked with improving Ontario’s troubled math curriculum says the attitudes of teachers, students and parents need to change in order to create better outcomes at provincial schools. Half of all grade six students failed to meet the provincial standard in math in 2015, according to the most recent numbers from Ontario’s Education Quality and Accountability Office. Those same numbers also suggest many high school students are earning diplomas while still having trouble adding fractions or multiplying without the aid of a calculator. “What we’re seeing is that teachers and ultimately students are struggling and parents are struggling,” Wilfrid Laurier math professor and co-director of the Ontario-wide math knowledge network Donna Kotsopolous told The Morning Edition guest host Colin Butler Monday.”(more)

Cepeda: Don’t tell your children that you’re not good at math

Pantagraph – Esther J. Cepeda

“There is an emerging education trend I’ve noticed that will hopefully sweep the nation: Asking the adults in children’s lives to not bad-mouth themselves about math. The first time I noticed it was several years ago at an orientation for parents at my younger son’s new middle school. The principal was trying to explain that the math standards on the statewide achievement test were going up and that it might be noticeable in work that was coming home at night. “Please encourage your children,” the administrator pleaded. “If you find that you are unable to help with the homework, know that we will have extra supports available for any students who need them. But please don’t say that you are not good at math. Or that math is ‘hard’ or you don’t understand why it all has to be so complicated.” More recently, an administrator at one of my local high schools had the same message for teachers: Don’t go around saying you’re not good at math.”(more)

Strong command of language helps students learn math

The Victoria Advocate – Barba Patton

“In hopes of helping, I researched the released state math questions for third through fifth grades from the last few years. What I found was quite surprising. I found 200 or more words that could confuse a student in each of those grade levels. Of the 200 words, some are repeated in several questions. If a child does not know a word in the second question and that same word appears in question 15, the child may not know how to answer two questions. It’s no wonder students with limited language skills have problems with the math section of the test.”(more)