Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Favorite comments of '09: Obi Wandreas the Funky Viking on “real world” problems

Re Why do our top math & science students defect?, Obi Wandreas writes:

The primary problem with "real world" problems, is that in order for them to require only the math you are trying to teach in the lesson, you have to set up a problem so contrived that it ceases to bear any actual resemblance to the real world.

The other issue, of course, is that it requires a great deal of time and effort to set up a problem and story only to find that your students will refuse to donate any airborne intercourse.

It's great to show students that math has real applicability. For the most part, however, what they are doing simply builds the foundation for the stuff that's really useful. A coach doesn't show athletes how they could use a sit-up to help them in life. When the athlete does something that requires the use of their abs, however, they will be glad to have done them.

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