The Knowledge Management Research Group

The problem/solution pattern applied to early mathematics education

Interpretation: The pattern describes how conceptual difficulties (= concept-formation-problems) in mathematics education are ‘solved' by promoting algorithmic ability, i.e. by teaching various forms of ‘arithmetic schemes' in a more or less fundamentalist fashion. This dissolution process is seen as driven by a pedagogical system that operates according to the principle of behave or degrade, i.e. the traditional math-test-metric. This leads to severe forms of understanding dys-functionality, which in turn drives the crystallization of the conceptual difficulties. By nurturing the difficulties, the loop creates anticipated conceptual difficulties, which are summarized in the biggest mental block of all - mathematics is difficult. This conclusion is here seen as an effect of the (be)cause: I never understood it when I was at school. This is a natural form of defense-reaction that ties in with the Discriminator questions pattern, which describes the filtering of the educational system and expresses the view that “when you do not understand during the later stages of your education, you often end up teaching in the earlier stages“.

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