Misunderstandings about Understanding

I had the great fortune to attend the researchED conference in Vancouver on Feb. 9, 2019. I was also honored to give a presentation there.  Here is a summary, followed by a link if you are interested in the presentation.  It is a PowerPoint which when viewed in “Notes” format contains the script that accompanies each slide.


Misunderstandings about understanding w notes


5 thoughts on “Misunderstandings about Understanding

  1. Absolutely correct. That said, how receptive was your audience? Were there a bunch of math ed experts who never learned (and never will learn) any mathematics beyond the algebra level much less a good proof-based Euclidean geometry course or anything but the most monkey-see/monkey-do calculus?


    • The audience was very receptive. researchED is unlike the conferences that groups like NCTM hosts. The premise of researchED is finding evidence and real research that identifies effective practices–and ineffective ones. The people attending the conf in Vancouver were relieved to hear what most people know but is never said; things like the “core competencies” are nonsense–you can’t teach “skills” like creativity and collaboration. They are domain specific. My talk had a very positive response. If a researchED conference happens in the LA area (and I’m pushing for that) I’ll not only try to get you to attend, but actually get you to speak!


    • There was an excellent Q&A session after Barry’s talk which seemed to indicate many teachers, and parents (such as myself) were grateful to hear their own thoughts on math education validated. There was a lovely young trainee teacher, who grew up in China. She gave a very meaningful, and vivid illustration about how math was never difficult for her in school, but her mother insisted that the basic facts were already instilled BEFORE she started school, so she could then focus on the more abstract aspect of mathematics in the classroom. She also said there was one aspect of a problem that she struggled with. So over the course of a month, she spent 1000s of hours of practicing this one aspect of the problem, in order to really understand what it was about. And didn’t think twice about dedicating that much time to the problem, because that is what mathematics, like many abstract subjects, require.


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