Grading in the Math Classroom

A Conundrum

In the high school math classroom, grading is more complicated than correct responses divided by the total number of questions. What is effort or persistence worth? How many points for improvement? What’s the penalty for late work? How late? When students work collaboratively, how is that graded? How much is getting the right answer actually worth?

Essentially, how … Read the rest

The Problem With Measuring Math Ability

It’s All Just a Game

By reducing down to a single number or letter grade the complex set of skills, behaviors, and values required to do mathematics, a signaling game is created. By signaling game, I mean a situation where a signaler (the student) wants to share information (their math ability) to an uninformed party (admission’s office). There is something … Read the rest

Selling Math Class

After graduate school in physics, I was offered the position of a sales engineer at a large sales representative firm that covered the mid-west of the United States. We represented electronic component manufacturers that made anything from diodes or capacitors, to micro-controllers and processors, and even cellular modems, single board computers, and SSDs. With the product lines as such, I … Read the rest

Thoughts On “A Mathematician’s Lament”

In Defense of Math, but Not Those Who Teach It


What is Paul Lockhart Lamenting?

Dr. Lockhart is lamenting two issues: 1. the essence of math is widely misrepresented and misunderstood and 2. the education system is terrible at teaching math. Much of the book addresses the first issue by explaining what math is really about. He does this very … Read the rest

What’s Missing When Learning Math?

Learning how to ride a bicycle requires a bicycle, some basic knowledge of how to operate it, a safe place, and the willingness to try. On the first attempt, you lose balance or fall over. You know when you’ve fallen over. You don’t need someone to tell you that you lost your balance. Being on the ground prompts you to … Read the rest

The Two Reasons Why We All Need to Learn Math

Dealing With the Shame of Feeling Wrong

The first and most important reason to learn math is to learn strategies for handling the shame of feeling wrong. Shame occurs when there is an expectation of a negative outcome. This occurs most often when you feel wrong about something. It is natural, healthy, important and entirely unpleasant for humans to feel … Read the rest