Math and Logical Thinking Intelligence : LUSENET : M.Ed. Cohort II : One Thread

Hi Cohort--Again--it was great to have a discussion with all of you. I find this part of the MEd program so beneficial to me. I am proud to be a part of this group of people who have so much knowledge. The math and logicl thinking intelligence is the one that truly intimidates me. I get nervous if someone I work with asks me a simple question if it contains anything even remotely related to number concepts. This goes way back--but not to elementary school. I feel the real change began to occur in 7th grade--I began to get not so subtle messages from my teacher about my mathematical ability. I still remember her name and can see her face clearly. I struggled through 8th grade--can't even remember the teachers name--I stayed pretty much in the background--never asked questions because I didn't want to sound stupid. In 9th grade I took Algebra--I remember his face--He'd have this odd smile on his face when he would hand me the test--like I know you will not be able to do it--and then when I would get the test back with a D (usually--I did pass the course) he would audibly snicker--How do teachers like that come to be teachers? That was the end of math for me--I took plane geometry in 10th grade and never took another math class--still. But now, when I look back, I know some encouragement and some faith in what I could do would have made all the difference in the world. When I find myself with some spare time (obviously that will occur sometime after THE thesis is completed) I am ging to take some math classes--really easy ones--just to see what I missed. This book we are reading for the intelligences really has some great suggestions to expose children to all the intelligences--I am really enjoying it. I'd love to hear some success stories where math is concerned.

-- Anonymous, March 08, 1999


Oh Gloria, you could have just about put my name on the bottom of your reply and the story would have stayed the same. It began in the 6th grade, but that teacher tried to help me. It was to no avail. From then on all I got was "You are not working up to your potential". I didn't have a clue. So avoidance was the key. Yet, oddly enough, I like to think that I am logical and make decisions on a pretty high level. I really enjoy things like Sherlock Holmes and can usually figure out where it will go before I get there. Maybe I will try another math class, too, but don't bet on it. The other part that intrigues me is the "intelligence" my kids have with math...WAY over my head. Do they have a better grasp or have they had better instruction? Based on my Jr. High experience I would bet its better instruction.It was so bad, that after I graduated from college I almost didn't date a very special girl just because she was a math teacher! One of the folks who was a new teacher at the time of my travail (his first year) worked with me in geometry and we did ok. He is now finishing his career teaching my ninth grade daughter. She says he does a good job and her grades reflect her understanding and application of what he teaches. Could there be the logical connection between all those years of practice and working to improve his skill as a teacher? I think so. One of my very favorite teachers told me that if I went into education the first year I would be working I would collect my check like it was a gift, I'd sort of be not very productive if you will. Second year it would be a bit better and then the third year I would come to be an asset to the school. You know, it's worked out to be pretty close to that, and I look at my kids and they have the benefit of mostly long time, caring, experienced teachers. It has to help.

-- Anonymous, March 09, 1999

Dave, you are so right about the first three years of teaching! The second year I was WAY better at the game and even better the third year. I hope that I will continue to grow each year.

In my one of my education classes (oh so many years ago) I was asked which of my teachers made the most impact on me or was the teacher I appreciated the most. I quickly answered my Geometry teacher in tenth grade. I'll tell you why through a story.

As Mr. Maursetter explained the lesson, I realized I understood the concepts and began to do the problems. He asked if anyone didn't understand and several people raised their hands. He explained the concepts a different way. He checked for understanding and a couple people raised their hands. I was thinking, "Boy, are they dumb or what!" Since I "got it," I figured it was easy. Mr. Maursetter gave yet a third way to try to get those last students to understand. Finally, we all got busy on the assignment.

I didn't realize until much later that not everyone had the same talents as I had and that others have talents I don't. (But would any teenage know this??) I also realized that he was an excellent teacher because he found different ways to reach his students. I wish I remembered how he reached those students who didn't understand at first. I wonder if he appealed to some of the other intelligences when he explained that second and third way.

-- Anonymous, March 10, 1999

I enjoyed our discussion last week, too. We all have different viewpoints and experiences to share.

I taught mathematics at WITC for five years. I worked with many students who were afraid to step into my classroom. It was often the last section that GED students would tackle in their studying and testing. It was very rewarding to help a student understand mathematics and progress to passing the GED test or to help a student through the mathematics for their course of study. I found that the adults who had trouble with math were those who were taught to memorize formulas and steps to solve problems. They never really understood what they were doing, just how to do it. By reviewing the basic concepts, introducing manipulatives, and practicing, it became easier for the students. Drill and practice is an important part of the process, as is connecting math to the real world.

So, yes, Gloria and Dave and all other math-fearing individuals, I hope that you will give it another chance! Finding the right teacher and methods can make all the difference in the world.

-- Anonymous, March 10, 1999

Math has always made sense to me and was my favorite class all through school. In fact I was interested in becoming a math teachers, but quit college after my first year after high school and when I went back a year later my major had changed to sociology. Now that I am a teacher and see children struggling with math concepts I find it a challenge to teach math and at times I struggle with not beimg able to reach them all the time. My frustrations with not being able to present concepts so everyone understands is probably similar to the frustrations felt by some of the students who know they aren't getting it. I try approaching math concepts in a variety of ways, but really need to look at doing more with the kinesthetic intelligence. Sometimes we see paper and penci math, again this is tied to standard assessment tools used to rate student progress, as the way to demonstrate understanding. Sometimes I am guilty of this and need to take a step back and make some changes. The question is how can I effectively provide students with opportunities to develop their mathematical intelligences successfully?

-- Anonymous, March 10, 1999

One of the best things about the group discussions for me is to realize that I am not alone. I too have a very negative image of myself in the area of math. Yet I do think of myself as a very logical person with some pretty decent problem solving skills. I remember very clearly a math class I needed to take at UMD for my major. The teacher was one of those people who made you feel very stupid just for asking the question. Needless to say I stopped asking questions very soon and as a result felt very stupid most of the time. I too wonder why people like that teach. They certainly are not interested in meeting the needs of their students. I guess feeling superior is more important to them. My oldest daughter has a chemistry teacher like that right now and is feeling some of my same frustrations. We just had a long talk and I told her she is not stupid because this is the way she is feeling. It makes me sad that it is happening to her too. Teachers have so much power. I was also telling my daughter about multiple intelligences and how exciting that whole concept is to the future of education. We all do have our own special gifts.

-- Anonymous, March 10, 1999

Just a quick note. I enjoy teaching math and science so much that it's almost hard for me to remember when these two things were not my cup of tea. Math, in particular, was hard for me. I was actually a good math student in elementary school, but junior high was different. I'm not sure what happened, but I stopped understanding and it snowballed from there. I think my math teacher was young and somewhat unexperienced (maybe a first or second year teacher), but my mom was also my teacher and I think a pretty darn good one--I can almost feel my mental block now. It seemd like the harder I tried to understand, the less I understood. Now I see math as being so much accessible. It doesn't frighten me. In fact, it excites me. I think I just needed to feel more confident in jr. high.

-- Anonymous, March 14, 1999

Math has always been easy for me. I enjoy teaching it because it is a challenge to find different ways to teach one topic. I have learned early on that not every student learns decimals the same way. Some like to think of them as fractions and others understand them as money. I didn't want to become a teacher until I was a junior in high school. I chose math because it was easy for me and I knew there was going to be a shortage of them. If I had better writing and grammar skills, I might have taught English. But I am happy to be teaching math and I hope my students feel the same way.

-- Anonymous, March 17, 1999

Despite the fact that folks may or may not return to this site to read what I write, I think I shall also tell my tale of math woe. It began in elementary school. I could not figure out a story problem when I was used to being able to figure things out quickly. I concluded I must not be as good at math as I thought I was. In 7th grade I was put in an advanced math class...the "new" ruined a lot of us because first, I had no place being in advanced math, and second, I would suspect that the teachers were just as bewildered with the new curriculum as we were. From then on I was just shoved along. I managed to go through geometry which seemed easier and took Algebra II as a tenth grader. I was in with juniors and seniors and by then I was hopelessly lost. It was the only class I almost failed. I wonder where my guidance counselor was. It was my last math class until I was about 40. When I returned to college I had to take a math. I took Algebra again from Dr. Gallion (sp?) the Beatles fanatic here at UMD. He chastised the class for having to take math at all since we should have studied harder in high school to pass. I spent an entire summer in my bedroom doing algebra....and I understood it. Later I asked a physics teacher if I could take her class because I thought it would be interesting. She didn't seem to think I could understand it, because apparently you need to have a lot of math background. Anybody out there take physics? What do you need as background?

I could use a role model on teaching math using different approaches or appealing to different intelligences. As with a lot of this, I can read what it says, but seeing someone actually model teaching in different ways would be a lot easier for me to understand and integrate.

-- Anonymous, March 21, 1999

Moderation questions? read the FAQ