Talkin’ Bout A (Teaching) Revolution

I have always taken my teaching very seriously. Mainly because I believe that I am not just teaching my students mathematics, but general skills that will make them successful in life, regardless of whether that future life involves mathematics. This is why I think it’s important to teach them, among other things, the value of “productive struggle” (my new favorite buzz words), effective communication, and collaborative work. I strongly believe that these skills help students learn mathematics better, but they are still useful even without the mathematics. In fact, the mathematics provides a very good context for learning these skills. I also feel very strongly about creating an inclusive atmosphere in the classroom, and hopefully as a result increasing representation of minorities and women (who are still largely underrepresented in mathematics classrooms), and I believe the teaching goals I just outlined are also helpful in creating this atmosphere. But there is something I thought very little about until recently, because I bought into the myth that it doesn’t exist: mathematics in its socio-political context. This is something I just started thinking about with a very talented group of faculty during the Park City Math Institute a few weeks ago.

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Posted in active learning, inquiry-based learning, minorities in mathematics, teaching, women in math | 1 Comment

PCMI Weeks Two and Three: Selected Highlights

So, it’s been a week since I got back from PCMI, and it’s taken that much time to recover from it. I wrote about the first week, and in particular the general first impressions and experience in this blog post. A lot happened in the subsequent two weeks, and I just wanted to write about some of the highlights.

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PCMI: Week One

The front entrance to the Hotel der Baer, featuring the titular accordion-playing bear, and Corey Manack (Franklin & Marshall).

The front entrance to the Hotel der Baer, featuring the titular accordion-playing bear and Corey Manack (Franklin & Marshall).

I have just finished (survived?) the first of my three weeks at the Park City Math Institute. The research topic this year is “Geometry of Moduli Spaces and Representation Theory.” ¬†For those of you not in the know, PCMI is an annual summer program sponsored by the Institute for Advanced Study, which brings together undergraduates, graduate students, secondary and post-secondary teachers, and researchers. It is a huge crowd and for me it has been very exciting to be around so many people who are interested in different facets of mathematics and mathematics education. I have mostly interacted with my group, the Undergraduate Faculty Program, but I have slowly been meeting people from all of the other groups. Our schedule has been jam-packed with exciting things, and in this post I will summarize some of them.

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Posted in conferences, Fields medal, IAS, math and art, math in the media, minorities in mathematics, networking, PCMI, public awareness of mathematics, research, summer school | Leave a comment