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    Jun 17 2013: Remy--I don't think students should study math. Okay, now I've grabbed everyone's attention. Next, he's going to tell us we shouldn't teach English. Correct, that is what I would say. So, let me explain what I mean by not teaching math or English. In our education system we've taken knowledge and the application of knowledge and broken it down into distinct, artificial categories. We have a math class, an English class or a science class. Everything is in its neat little box and detached from everything else.

    This creates some huge problems. First, in the real world problem solving often requires interdisciplinary thinking. One problem may require me to apply math, writing, art, science or other disciplines. So, why are we teaching things in dissected little boxes?

    Second, think how things like math are studied. We're dealing with some unknown train leaving New York at 40 mph and another unidentified train leaving Los Angeles at 60 mph and want to know when the twain shall meet? Who cares and why should they? It's not connected to anything that has meaning to the student or instructor. What happens when a mental discipline is detached from meaning? We go through the motions--emotionally detached from the process. It's just a mental chore to be completed.

    Now, think about something you love. Wait a tick? Isn't love an emotion? Or, hate? Or, joy? If something moves us emotionally we cant' stop THINKING about it. The heart is the engine of the mind! So, I'm not a big fan of breaking everything down into discrete disciplines.

    I hope you can see where I'm coming from. Should we teach and should kids learn math? Of course! But, it shouldn't be in the detached, sterile environment of an hour-long block called math class! Until math is taught in a way that connects to real world applications that students care about we're going to have difficulty teaching it. Once we start to teach it in real-world, emotionally-engaging contexts people will learn and love it!
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      Jun 17 2013: Brett, I find it really interesting what you've said and your 'radical' approach to 'teaching' math. I have to agree that putting subjects into discrete disciplines does isolate them, and opens up the opportunities to arise such as "I'm only good at English, and can't do math." I think it's a something we can aspire to reach in the education system, however not something I've come across before. Do you know of a system which encompasses this 'radical' approach. If so, I'd very much like to hear about it!
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        Jun 17 2013: Probably the best single source on this for your bookshelf is the Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences, edited by R. Keith Sawyer. Several decades of experiences in this sort of authentic, situated pedagogy are described by leading teacher-researchers in the field. ISBN 0-521-60777-9.

        In terms of key words, this has for the last few decades gone by the name Project-Based Learning. There is lots of material online in this area.

        You or others at Shell probably know about FIRST Robotics and Science Olympiad both of which are national programs . FIRST almost always needs engineers from local firms to mentor teams and fund materials. Around here Microsoft and Boeing have definitely been involved in these as well as engineering professionals from smaller firms.
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          Jun 17 2013: Remy & Fritzie: project-based learning is one way such a teaching/learning paradigm is applied. This really isn't a new idea. Think how teaching was done long ago. A student would be trained by a master and it would be based on hands-on, real-world learning.

          We also need to look at the fundamental similarities between disciplines. For example, you mention someone who is good at English, but bad at math. Consider the two subjects. Both are languages that require the use of symbolic interaction. Both require the use of logic. Both require forming arguments--think about geometry proofs or a persuasive essay. Great mathematicians are extremely creative people. And, so are great writers.

          Underlying both disciplines are creativity, critical thinking and the ability to make logical connections. While the artwork of a great writer and mathematician looks much different, the mental brush strokes underlying the creation of those works of art bear striking similarities.
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          Jun 18 2013: Thank you both Brett and Fritzie for this thread. You've highlighted some novel (from my view) methodologies and resources which I will certainly pursue.
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        Jun 18 2013: I am glad that you found some of what you were looking for.
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      Jun 18 2013: You are right. None of it is new at all. Pedagogical strategies tap into opportunities for such 'transfer."

      One classic in which this is laid out is Jerome Bruner's 1960 classic The Process of Education, which is the first reading a lot of us have been assigned in our teacher training ever since.

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