Bill Barton Presentation at AustMS

What Bill Barton (Professor of Mathematics at the University of Aukland) wants for our mathematics students students:

  • A grasp of the field and an appreciation of its power and its applicability
  • Some technical skills and familiarity with content
  • Experience of working mathematics (including with technology)
  • Rational thinking (of a special kind)
  • Perseverance (of a special kind, driven by confidence that rational thinking will work, and that I can learn any mathematics that  need
  • A desire to bring mathematics to bear and to critique it.

Bill talks about the best way to make someone addicted is to give them infrequent unpredictable rewards (like pokies!)

We know that being talked at is not the best way to learn so why do we do it?

We need to make students responsible for their learning – sometimes students don’t take responsibility for their learning and we respond by babying them. Instead we could hand out the unit outline and say “you need to know all of this but I wont have time to teach it all so you will need to learn the other parts yourself”.

Why do academics write text books – there are hundreds out there?!? Instead we should be writing about ways of bringing the subject to life through teaching.

Bill recommends high levels of personal contact, authentic mathematical problems, a high dose of challenge, and collaborative approaches.

Bill recommends that we see University curriculum design as adventure tourism – treat it as something students are doing to be excited, explore and see what they like.

About matthewbower

Professor at Macquarie University.
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