Students need to see the need for the mathematics they are learning!

If students are to invest their energies into learning mathematics, they need a good reason to do so. Teachers use a multitude of strategies to generate interest in what they teach, some more effective than others. A recent discussion on Dan Meyer’s blog generated a lot of interest around the question of how to get students interested in math lessons.

My take on this question is similar to Dan Meyer’s, that mathematics lessons and exercises need to relate to, and if possible include, real contexts that are engaging, interesting and have some authentic purpose to them. Making up fake, ‘cutesy’ stories on which to hang plain, boring math exercises won’t cut it: students will see through any sort of fakery on our part, and frankly they deserve better.

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I videoed this podcast episode on the beach at Weston-super-mare in Somerset, England. The mathematics involved relates to the beach itself, and the dangers it poses to people who venture too far onto the mud there. People drown on the beaches in this area each year, so the dangers are real and deserve focused attention from the local authorities and local residents.

Location:

Next to the Grand Pier, Weston-super-mare, North Somerset, England
51.348162, -2.984658‎
+51° 20′ 53.38″, -2° 59′ 4.77″


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