Jo Boaler on the Common Core and a multidimensional approach to math

This morning, the principal of Miller Middle School, Steve Burrell, shared Jo’s video with me. Jo is a professor at Stanford and has most recently offered engaging MOOCs on math instruction.

At 20 minutes, it’s is a bit longer than the usual TED talk or video’s I would normally post, but Jo presents an interesting understanding of teaching and learning mathematics.

Here’s the video:

Multidimensional Math:
Around 10:44 she talks about the importance of multidimensional math as opposed to one-dimensional approaches to math.

Her definition of multidimensional math includes:

  • Asking Questions
  • Forming Models
  • Reasoning
  • Communicating
  • Connecting Ideas

Slow Down and Dig In:
At 17:50 She posits that we need more depth in mathematical study with less emphasis on speed. As a society, we have grown to believe that those that solve math problems quickly are smarter and more capable than those that are slow to do the same work. Research doesn’t concur and neither do some of our most outstanding mathematicians.

“…rapidity doesn’t have a precise relation to intelligence. What is important is to deeply understand things and their relations to each other. This is where intelligence lies. The fact of being quick or slow isn’t relevant.”

Laurent Schwartz, Fields Medal winner, ‘A Mathematician Grappling with his Century”

**And last but not least…for the connection to Robin Williams… “Anyone know what the Fields Medal is? It’s a really big deal. It’s like the Nobel Prize for math, except they only give it out once every four years. It’s a great thing. It’s an amazing honor. Okay, everybody, that’s it for today. Thanks and … .we’ll see you Monday? We’ll be talking about Freud, and why he did enough cocaine to kill a small horse. Thank you.” (Williams playing Sean in Good Will Hunting 34:00)

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