Monday, July 28, 2014

The Rock Star Math Teacher

Yesterday’s post was triggered by reading an article about math. Today's comes to mind after reading another. "Why Americans Stink at Math" describes a Japanese math teacher who achieved “rock star” status in his home country (giving lectures before 1000+ observers) using American teaching methods only to be disappointed in later discovering we Americans cannot replicate in our own classrooms the methods adopted in Japan.

The teaching methods in Japan obviously differ from those here.  But I found Akihiko Takahashi’s profile even more striking.  He either teaches math or thinks about teaching math.  After teaching his class during the day he visits other class rooms during the evening.  He is regarded as one of the top math teachers in the country, and “when he starts talking about math, everything changes.”

The culture that creates these kinds of teachers is a different culture than ours.  Here entrepreneurs, computer programmers, executives, athletes, and others work hard and enjoy recognition.  Our math teachers may explore their craft with the “fire in the belly” of Takahashi.  But maybe not.  If they don’t, it seems to me to be very much worth the effort of building such a culture in our own area. Maybe along with (or instead of) hosting a Fall basketball league, we should host a "math league (or chess league ?)," complete with rock star coaches and players, all-stars, and champions. I better start working on my "new math" skills!

Note: The article is long but worth the read. I plan to revisit it with observations about Georgia's project of teaching Math 1, 2, 3, and 4.

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