Over the years the quality of education in the United States has dropped. The national, state and local mathematical test scores have documented this decline. There are those of us who say; “It is the fault of the student”, “It is the fault of the T.V,” “It is the fault of the permissive parent”. The excuses go on without an end.
The real problem may well be a combination of all of these things coupled with yet another problem, the teacher. Have we written the children off? Is our attitude, “They can not do it so I will skip this part of the text and go on to some less demanding material”? Many of us may be guilty of this. I think its time to evaluate some of our own teaching practices and approach the task at hand with a more positive attitude. They can do problem solving, and I am going to see to it that they do!
In the teaching of mathematics there is a tendency to stick to the book. This will always be a problem, for the texts run on the average of 500 pages. This is a lot to plow through in just 180 days. The need to get to the next page cone hell or high water, is a self imposed one. What do we do? It’s time to rework the problem section of our individual texts. Present a good representative sample of the typical problems and then reach out to other sources and deliberately expose the students to more exciting and challenging problems.
There are many state and national mathematics publications which are filled with both information and techniques for problems and their presentation to a class. They can be just the thing to pick up our own spirits and help us combat the dreaded disease Which we have come to call, ‘’Teacher Burn out”.