Obvious Mathematics

“Obvious is the most dangerous word in mathematics.”
E. T. Bell

For my blogger initiation this week, I want to talk about this great quote.  It is a huge problem I see all of the time in middle school- kids glance at the assignment, write down the first number they see, or use their favorite operation, write down anything then turn the assignment in.  Doesn’t even matter what the question was in the first place.  Unfortunately, students often don’t seem to mind a lot when I return assignments and tell them they are wrong.  I even have several students who write down IDK (I don’t know) for the entire assignment and turn it in!  How do we make students care?  How do we teach kids that they really do need to learn this?  I hope you are not reading this blog thinking that I have all of these answers and I am about to reveal them to you.  Because I don’t.

Maybe the solution involves showing students multiple ways to find answers and walking them through the entire process of finding the answer instead of focusing on answers.  I have seen a few posts lately on homework where teachers provide the answers for the student right up front so that students can focus on the correct work and not just the answer.  I love this idea!  Maybe this is the place to start…

Not sure this post will make any sense to anyone else as it seems to be a collection of random thoughts.  But I think it is a problem we all deal with and will continue to encounter.


3 thoughts on “Obvious Mathematics

  1. That is a great quote – kind of makes me wonder why throughout so much of my own math education, it seems that people went through great pains to make things seem as self-evident as possible. Where’s the room for wonder? Perplexity?
    I love that you’re looking for ways to get your students to buy in, and putting yourself out there, making your struggles public. Looking forward to seeing how this all plays out over the course of the year.

    ps. Hooray New Blogger Initiative!

  2. Pingback: [NBI] Week three of the Math Blogging Initiation « Quantum Progress

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