"Why School?" by Will Richardson is an insightful look at how technology is changing the position and place of education in the lives of students. In my Math Methods course last year we covered many topics that were of a similar vein, however I think that the greatest take away can be had by examining whether a question or activity has actual worth.

In his chapter on rethinking assessment Mr. Richardson discusses problems that are easily Googleable. I found that in my first semester of clinical practice I was giving students worksheet full of problems that I would personally solve with a calculator or wolframalpha. While I can solve a long division problem by hand, I would never bother to if I could use a tool to do the job. The high students in my class could do rout calculations easily and the lower students had issue with the calculations, but truthfully few of them had any deep understanding of the logic and two weeks later only a couple of them could remember how to perform the operation again.

At this time I really started to consider whether it was truly in the best interest of the students to actually practice the calculations. While I never implemented it I wonder if I would have had more long term success with those students if I had focused on the Algebra and using a calculator to solve problems. As a life skill, knowing how to correctly set up an equation and input it into a calculator is worth more than being able to perform the actual calculation on paper.

Understanding how to set up the and look at a problem would have also lead to the students having many less obvious mistakes. If the students had a decent grasp of what they were doing and why from an Algebraic perspective they would have been better prepared to spot problems when their equations were wrong. They would have been less likely to accept an answer of a 1'000 lbs instead of 10 lbs on a word problem problem if they were thinking about the problem and not just the formula.

I think that we as educators would be preparing our students for the future much more thoroughly if we started focusing on students understanding why they are performing actions instead of testing them on their ability to perform mechanical tasks that became human obsolete years ago.

Brooks

In his chapter on rethinking assessment Mr. Richardson discusses problems that are easily Googleable. I found that in my first semester of clinical practice I was giving students worksheet full of problems that I would personally solve with a calculator or wolframalpha. While I can solve a long division problem by hand, I would never bother to if I could use a tool to do the job. The high students in my class could do rout calculations easily and the lower students had issue with the calculations, but truthfully few of them had any deep understanding of the logic and two weeks later only a couple of them could remember how to perform the operation again.

At this time I really started to consider whether it was truly in the best interest of the students to actually practice the calculations. While I never implemented it I wonder if I would have had more long term success with those students if I had focused on the Algebra and using a calculator to solve problems. As a life skill, knowing how to correctly set up an equation and input it into a calculator is worth more than being able to perform the actual calculation on paper.

Understanding how to set up the and look at a problem would have also lead to the students having many less obvious mistakes. If the students had a decent grasp of what they were doing and why from an Algebraic perspective they would have been better prepared to spot problems when their equations were wrong. They would have been less likely to accept an answer of a 1'000 lbs instead of 10 lbs on a word problem problem if they were thinking about the problem and not just the formula.

I think that we as educators would be preparing our students for the future much more thoroughly if we started focusing on students understanding why they are performing actions instead of testing them on their ability to perform mechanical tasks that became human obsolete years ago.

Brooks