• Andrea Paulakovich

Thoughts on Geometry and "A Paradigm Shift for 21st Century Education"

I am sitting and observing an amazing math teacher. She is utilizing rotation stations to have students use similarity to solve problems and to prove relationships in geometric figures. Everything about her lesson is effective: objectives posted and verbalized, cooperative learning, stations that work students through Bloom's Taxonomy, and checks for understanding with the teacher before moving to the next station. Although the environment has been set up for success, I continue to hear the following comments:

  • "This doesn't make sense." 

  • "Why do we have to do this?" 

  • "What is 24 divided by 3?"

  • "I hate math."

I know for a fact that these comments are not a reflection of the teacher. She is a passionate, compassionate, innovative teacher that stays up until the wee hours of the morning to refine her craft and her lessons. The problem is the curriculum. I recently read an article by Spencer Kagan that affirms the need for curriculum overhaul. We need to move away from a one-size-fits all curriculum and move to blended courses. How would students benefit if we offered math courses that taught them about smart money management, interest rates, college loans, car loans, house loans, etc... What if students were offered the choice: take courses that are focused on the academics of math or a course focused on the skills you will need to be financially responsible. I decided to ask students as they were leaving the class. Do you enjoy this class? 17/17 students said they love their teacher but they hate the content and don't see how it will serve them in their future. I can relate to this 100%. As a former English teacher, Geometry did not serve me in any shape or form. Earning my only D in high school because I couldn't figure out shapes and their correlation to equations did little to improve my confidence in math.

So...what is the purpose of forcing students to take courses that won't help them to be successful? Why are we forcing teachers to shove content down the throats of students who could care less about the content. When will we band together and begin to make the necessary changes to ensure that all students are successful. When will we put our foot down and say "enough is enough?" I challenge you to read the article, "A Paradigm Shift for 21st C," and consider Dr. Kagan's claim that we must shift our thinking, curriculum, and strategies.