Math teacher Dan Meyer is at it again! No longer content to just insist that teaching math has got to become entertaining if today’s kids are going to compete with kids from around the world, he’s now on record saying math teaching should get out of the textbook and go multimedia, audio, video -- the whole deal.
He’s got a point: kids live in a multimedia environment, maybe they should be learning in one as well. And as he points out, the multimedia learning environment needn't set the school or the teachers budget back by that much: “...this is an amazing time to be a math teacher right now ...because we have the tools to create this high-quality curriculum.... It's ubiquitous and fairly cheap, and the tools to distribute it freely under open licenses has also never been cheaper or more ubiquitous.”
As proof of multimedia’s power in the math world he tells about the math problems he’s put on Internet videos that have garnered interest from around the world--one received 6000 views in two weeks and emails from parents and teachers worldwide. Oh, and then there is his invitation to go on Good Morning America… How many math teachers can claim they have had a chance to expound their teaching methods on national television?
But teaching math with the help of multimedia is about more than just keeping the kids entertained and thereby engaged and attentive -- although lord knows math as originally taught needs some help along those lines. Thoughtfully used, multimedia gives math an immediacy and relevancy that no textbook can. And hasn’t relevancy been the Holy Grail sought by math teachers since the beginning of time?
While Meyer doesn’t mention them, we believe he might agree that robots are a great new math teaching tool. Certainly they are part of the kids' multimedia environment. They walk, they talk, they act as wi-fi interceptors and video players and as for relevancy, nothing is more representative of the digital age. Our RobotsLAB Box, for example, keeps kids interested and engaged in quadratic equations by displaying them in real time on a tablet as the robot -- a helicopte -- rises and dips at their command. Just try getting that same result discussing factoring and graphing out of a textbook!
RobotsLAB wishes Dan Meyer well. We are proud to be part of the crusade to make math interesting and relevant to all kids everywhere instead of just the talented few.