Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Faster, Higher and Stronger...for math

Last week my students compared methods of converting centimetres into feet and inches. At one point during the presentations a student made this statement,

"When would we ever use that method, since this way is much faster."

This instinctive lean towards the more efficient method did not go unnoticed. I think it would be fair to say that students are always looking for the faster method. It might also be fair to say that students enjoy the 'easy way', as opposed to the 'hard way'. (But I'm not defining either of those terms.)

They are looking for efficiency. This is a very natural mathematical idea within students.

It is highlighted in this video where a Japanese math teacher (at minute 4:23) brings the students back to the pneumonic HA-KA-SE. Fast, Easy, Accurate.

It is the math teachers equivalent to the Olympic slogan, Faster, Higher, Stronger.

Citius, Altius, Fortius

This led me to question whether this HAKASE is a constant consideration in Japanese schooling. Is it standard? In watching more of the video you can hear the students suggesting that the given method might only be easy and accurate, and not necessarily fast.

The lesson is analyzed here by Dan in his ongoing discussion about what he calls the Ladder of Abstraction.

Is this the math slogan we can always make reference to?
How often will I be able to refer back to these 3 words when a student asks, "Why are we learning this?"

And when a student does point out, "When would we ever use that method, since this way is much faster?" I can just agree, unless someone can point out a faster or easier method.

Gorgeous prime number generator.

It took me a minute to realize what I was looking at but then...ahhhhhh...a beautiful design. Don't miss out on zooming in and out, and speeding it up.

1 comment:

  1. Post from a pre-service teacher in his junior year of school.

    I feel, as a man who loves math, that the questions "why are we learning this?" should never be asked. The student should be so intrigued with the subject that they want to figue out what goes on next. This intrinsic motivation to want to know everything that is math should be passed on to students from their teachers.
    The question "When would we ever use that method, since this way is much faster?" is the question of a simpleton. Math is a beautiful network, the answer is a destination and you have so many roads to travel to reach it.