Here are two items that have been shared with me in the last 24 hours:
Item 1: Want To Be Better At Math? Use Hand Gestures! Jeremy Shere of Indiana Public Media. Check out this very short audio news that suggests that math instruction has been shown more effective with gestures. I flail around in front of my classroom all the time, so I guess that makes me a good teacher, right? I’d sure like to think so! 🙂 (HT: Tim Chase)
Item 2: How to Fall in Love With Math. Manil Suri, professor at a small school down the road from me (University of Maryland…maybe you’ve heard of it?), has a very nice piece on why math is a worthy object for our affection. It’s been heavily shared in the circles I travel–and for good reason. He reminds us that people fall susceptible to two very common errors when casually speaking about math: (1) We reduce it to arithmetic, as in “come on guys, do the math” or (2) we elevate it to something so ethereal that it’s impossible to grasp, as in “that mathematician talks and I don’t understand a word he says. I never was good at math.” Math, Suri says, is much more than arithmetic and much more accessible than people give it credit for. People can appreciate it without understanding every difficult nuance, just as they do art. (HT: Beth Budesheim)
“US teachers don’t use enough hand gestures” seems to be an odd answer to the question “Why do US kids lag behind in math?” I can think of many reasons why US kids might lag behind in math, and I suspect that a lack of hand-waving teachers is (at best) a minor reason among them.
I really like Manil Suri’s article! Thanks for sharing.
I also think the claim is dubious. Notice that the individual studies make no such claim. It’s national geographic that makes the link. I agree that gestures are part of good instruction, but like you I hesitate to say that this constitutes a revolution in math teaching.
I Just read the whole gestures study here:
Click to access Gesturing_to_Promote.pdf
Hand gestures still have to be accompanied by meaning. See this bad example here.
Love that clip! Thanks for reminding us of it, dad :-).