# Ep 135: The Challenge

January 17, 2023 Pam Harris Episode 135
Math is Figure-Out-Able with Pam Harris
Ep 135: The Challenge

What does it take to change our perspectives so we can teach more and more Real Math? In this episode Pam and Kim discuss how they can help YOU when you join the You Can Change Math Class Challenge!
Talking Points:

• What is the Challenge anyway?
• Is the math you do at home different from the math you do in school? (Thank you John SanGiovanni)
• What are the major perspectives and how can I learn more about them?
• How does the perspective of how I was taught affect how I teach?

Register for the challenge here! https://www.mathisfigureoutable.com/change
Get the free ebook here! https://www.mathisfigureoutable.com/big

For more on the perspectives we talked about see episodes 24-28, and take the quiz to learn more about your perspective! https://www.mathisfigureoutable.com/xyz

Check out our social media
Instagram: Pam Harris_math
Facebook: Pam Harris, author, mathematics education

Pam:

Hey, fellow mathematicians! Welcome to the podcast where Math is Figure-Out-Able! I'm Pam.

Kim:

And I'm Kim.

Pam:

And you have found a place where math is not about memorizing and mimicking, waiting to be told or shown what to do. But, ya'll, it's about making sense of problems, noticing patterns, and reasoning using mathematical relationships. We can mentor mathematicians as we co-create meaning together. Not only are algorithms not particularly helpful in teaching mathematics, but rotely repeating steps actually keeps students from being the mathematicians they can be.

Kim:

Pam:

And if you're listening to this at a different time, the dates for that are January 18th- 20th, 2023 is when the Challenge will be if you're listening to different time. You can check out mathisfigureoutable.com/change to find out when our next Challenge is. But we are super excited because January 18th, we will be having one of our Challenges. And you might be like, "What is a challenge?" Well, literally, we get a chance to meet together live on Zoom. And if you register, and you can't make those times, you get the link to the recordings. But we get a chance to be together live on Zoom. I can see 50 of you at a time. It's a really high energy.

Kim:

Get in early!

Pam:

Oh, yeah. That is actually. Should we say that? We have people that join in like an hour before because then they're the ones that get to be one of the first 50 on the screen, which means... I'm super interactive. I don't know. You probably can't tell that on the podcast. But anytime I do anything virtual...or in person, for heaven's sakes...it's very interactive. I'm not a 'talk at you' kind of person, which I don't know if I can. This is so not in the plan to say. It's one of the reasons why, Kim, I begged you to be my co-host because I was like, "There's no way that I can sit here and talk at people on a podcast. Our colleague Sue. How long did she? It's forever.

Kim:

Oh, forever.

Pam:

Kim:

Mmhmm.

Pam:

Fantastic. Everybody super enjoyed him. John, thanks so much for coming on. We had a super time with you. But he said something I have been thinking about for quite a while. And you and I beat this out a little bit, and I thought it would be good for us to sort of beat it out a little bit today, kind of off the... How do you say that phrase?

Kim:

Off hand?

Pam:

Kim:

Sure.

Pam:

Kim:

I absolutely thought that there were many, many, many more people who saw relationships and patterns like I did. And so, when they didn't catch on to the things that I was saying, I was troubled. I was like, "Okay, well, let's try this. Let's try this." Because I just assumed that they saw what I saw and thought about what I thought about.

Pam:

And didn't have... None of us have experience in our... I shouldn't say "none". But most of us don't have experienced as a student seeing anything else, right? There wasn't anything else to try that maybe could help. Now, there's a lot of other things being thrown out there now, but if it's still your perspective that kids should be able to sort of get it on their own or were stymied, then that's tough. Yeah. Okay. So, that could be a perspective. We call it the X perspective. Just not for a reason, just because it's a variable. So, another perspective is the perspective that I had. And I call that the Z perspective. And it is the perspective that the nature of math is, you must wait until someone shows you what to do. Doing math means you're performing steps and procedures. Learning math means you're figuring out which rule to do when, and when you've remembered which rule, then you've got to parse out which step. Not parse out. That's too thinking. Then, you're remembering what steps to do in that rule. And so, until the teacher shows you what to do, you don't know how to do a problem. And the nature of math is mimicking. And those who can have a memory are going to mimic better because they can memorize stuff. And so, since it's all based on rote memory, how it might affect your teaching is you're going to help students memorize. You're going to help them realize which rule to do when, and once they've realized the rule, you're going to help them realize which one of those steps in that rule, and all that. Sometimes people will poke me and go, "I can't believe you didn't think at all while you're doing math." And I'm like, "No, no, no, no. No, I thought a lot. I worked really hard!" But all my thinking was about someone else's thinking. It was always trying to make sense of what I was just shown what to do when, and then what were the steps in there, make sure I didn't miss a step. So, I was doing a lot of thinking, but it was always someone else's thinking. It wasn't, "What do you think about when you see this problem? What relationships ping for you?" It was, "Which rule? What part of the textbook do you see in your head right now? Oh, that rule, okay. Now, remember the steps in the rule." So, if you relate to my perspective, then you're working hard to help students memorize. You're teaching them songs, and rhymes, and raps, and you've got pictures, and you're telling stories, and you're making. Now, I didn't do this. But you might be making math cute, so there might be like turtle multiplication, and the bat and the ball for memorizing the cross multiply and divide. That's a name I just heard. Pizza Steve for knowing what to do with integer operations. Like, you've come up with sort of these cute, catchy mnemonic kinds of things to help students rote memorize if that's the perspective.

Kim:

Yeah.

Pam:

And then quickly, I'll describe a third perspective, which I kind of came across a bit later and mostly happened because of my daughter. Bless her heart. And I'm super glad God gave her to me because she's helped me understand this perspective. The perspective that she had was that she could not do the math unless she understood why. So, I call that group the Y group. And often, that group gets super frustrated because they believe they can know why. That's different than the perspective I had, the Z perspective, where I believed I could know which rule to do when, but I believed I had to wait until somebody handed it to me. And I wouldn't ever really understand why that rule, I just... Yeah. But the Y perspective, it's almost like this psychic break thing where they're like, "I will not. I believe I can understand what you're doing, and I want you to explain it to me, so I understand it. And until you explain it to me, I'm going to put my foot down, and I'm going to go, 'No, I want to understand'. Because if I don't understand, I'm not going to be able to do your thing. And so, I want to..." And they believe they can understand. And that group, I have to work the least with because that group once we get them into Team Real Math, once we get them mathematizing, and Math is Figure-Out-Able, and we help them learn the math, they just soar. Because they always believe they can understand why, and now they understand why, and they will happily teach that way to help kids understand why. So, if you relate to that Y perspective, all we do is just help you learn more math. And then, we set you free. And once you're like, "Oh, that's how I just learned that through you. I'll do that with my students." And they happily do that with their students.

Kim:

Yeah.

Pam:

So, the fourth perspective that I'd like to share is different than those three. The fourth perspective is where I hope to nudge all of us into believing that math is Real Math, and that Math is Figure-Out-Able. And that we can all learn what those X's were doing sort of naturally in their head if we get it out, if we understand what it is. If we make it visible, and discussable, and comparable, we can all think that way, and we can all then teach math that way. We can teach math as being figure-out-able, not rote memorizable. So, I call that team R, that's the R. So, if we have to put a variable to it, we kind of have the X's that were sort of doing all that math on their own, we have the Z's that it was kind of all about rote memorizing. Well, actually, let me back up. So, X is math was learned on your own, and then therefore teach the way they were taught because it works for them. And they don't know, like Kim said, "I don't know what else to do. Like, it was troubling." And so you try, but you're not sure how to help kids do what you kind of did naturally. We can help with that. If you're a Z perspective, and everything was rote memorized, and so now you're trying to make math cute and memorizable, we can help you learn the math that's figure-out-able, and then teach math that way that you're learning. And if you're a Y, good gravy we just such we're just such a loose, We just set you loose to help the world know why. And we all know why. And then, we can all be on Team R, Team Real Math.

Kim: