What math are we going to teach and how? – 01.12.2021 – Marcelo Viana

I commented three weeks ago that our schools teach nineteenth-century math at best, and that this creates a mismatch between the education we give our young people and their real needs for doing today’s jobs and understanding the world that surrounds us.

And the question is not just “what” but “how” we teach this math. Take an example.

When the federal government began discussing the National Common Curricular Base (BNCC) in 2015, the Brazilian Mathematical Society set up working groups made up of college and elementary school teachers to discuss how basic education curricula should develop. at the end.

One topic that emerged and fortunately had a concrete influence on the drafting of the BNCC was the teaching of probability and statistics.

Both are fundamental areas for science, productive activity, and understanding of the phenomena that occur around us. Considering its role in the modeling of infectious diseases or in the recent spectacular development of artificial intelligence.

Until recently, however, both areas were practically absent from the classroom.

In addition to the fact that the theory and application of statistics and probability are well advanced, the new technological resources also allow these topics to be addressed in a much more appropriate manner.

Indeed, as they are normally taught, the lives of young people will make little difference.

But are teachers trained with this knowledge? Who trains them in our degrees, is they prepared for it?

What about computational thinking that is so important today? And the logical reasoning that is inherent in it? Are they properly addressed in undergraduate courses? Who is willing to teach this to the future teacher so that he can stimulate this knowledge in the minds of his students? Advanced teacher training courses often request “Using Excel” or “Robotic Mathematics” classes. Because?

The German mathematician Felix Klein, who more than a century ago dealt with these questions in his country with the full authority of his scientific career, had no doubt about pointing out the problem and thus the “solution”: the valorisation of teacher training.

Almost everything he said and wrote applies to Brazil today, more than a hundred years later.

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