A few weekends ago I spent the better part of two days wandering about the California Math Council’s Southern regional conference at Palm Springs. I just thought I would reflect on some of what I saw, heard, and learned.
The bulk of my time was spent at sessions related to Transformation Geometry (TG). This is a topic at the center of my own doctoral work and so I have a keen interest in what others are saying about it. This is perhaps one of the most profound and new inclusions to the math curriculum I have seen in my nearly 30 years as a professional in math education. This is because it represents a shifting of perspective, or basis for understanding core ideas in Geometry. It is exciting to see this shift happening. Starting from a TG viewpoint we can create testable definitions of congruence and build a base understanding that is vertically articulate through higher studies. My next post will be on this topic.
While focusing on TG was a personal goal, I also took time to head to a few of the more broad-based presentations as well. Robert Kaplinsky and Jo Boaler are two members of the math-teaching world that are changing the face of math education today and for the future. If you get a chance to read anything by either, I highly recommend it. Jo Boaler provided me with my favorite quote of the conference, “Questions with one right answer promote a ‘Fixed’ mindset; open up your questions if you want to encourage a ‘Growth’ mindset.” This refers to some very important findings by another critical figure in today’s math education world, Carol Dweck, who has found that what can be identified as a fixed mindset towards math ability has an affect of limiting achievement in students.
The interplay of strong thinkers and excellent teachers is what keeps us at the Center excited and interested in our work.