Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Teaching Mathematics Education Students in Chiangmai University

Why are the students so cheerful in class? Because they are solving simultaneous equation with three unknowns - that's why? It is impossible that students were so cheerful in the mathematics class?
Each student raised a card to their forehead thus was not able to see their own card. Subsequently, each student stated the sum of numbers on their friends' foreheads. Say, A had 7, B had 9 and C had 3. A would have said 12, B 10 and C 16. If the value of the card that A had is a, B is b and C is c then b+c=12, a+c=10 and a+b=16. However, in this case A would have known the values of b and c. The only unknown is a. For secondary students this activity can be used to introduce the idea of solving equations. For primary students, it is a good exercise in addition and subtraction and, more importantly, reasoning.

"Despite resources that are unmatched anywhere in the world, we have let our grades slip, our schools crumble, our teacher quality fall short and other nations outpace us," Obama told the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. "The future belongs to the nation that best educates its citizens, and my fellow Americans, we have everything we need to be that nation," he added. The U.S. leader painted the education drive as part of a broader push to promote economic growth in the face of a deep recession and the nation's worst financial crisis in decades.

"In a 21st century world where jobs can be shipped wherever there's an internet connection, where a child born in Dallas is competing with children in Delhi ... education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity and success, it is a prerequisite," he said.
These are words from the President of the USA. In the special lecture I had with all the undergraduate and graduate students of mathematics education in Chiangmai University, I hope the 100 of them in the room can teach 40 students well. In their many years as a teacher of mathematics, they are in the position to bring up a whole generation of citizens who can compete in this type of global economy.

We emphasized on the problem-solving approach, the focus on intellectual competence as well as the concrete/pictorial/abstract approach to teaching students. I was asked where teachers can find problems such as the ones I used in the session. I replied that the problems themselves are not as important as how the teacher uses it. I had demonstrated in the lesson how even computational procedures such as 2/3 divided by 4 can be taught to help students develop and improve their intellectual competence.

In any case there are many good problems on the internet and in moments of inspiration some teachers can come up with interesting problems. If you are one of them, please share na. (na is a particle in Thai to gently persuade someone to do something.)

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