With the new school year upon us (in many parts of the world), now is a good time for teachers to consider what they plan on teaching to their students this year. Undoubtedly, many teachers will just stick to the curriculum prescribed to them by their school district. But, is that always the “best” way to explain complicated topics, such as math concepts. Maybe there is a better way of teaching certain topics, or different perspectives that might be worth considering which may help ease student confusion.
On that note, I just read a fascinating perspective by Erlina on the use of equal signs and letter symbols in math, and what these things actually mean. I had never stopped to actually give any thought to this topic, but this may be worth considering before you jump into your math lessons and teach the same way as always. Here’s an excerpt from her post:
“Teachers would oftentimes introduce algebra by telling their learners that x stands for an unknown number. It is not incorrect but that’s not all. Some teachers also introduce the word variable by saying that x can take any value that’s why x is called a variable. Again, it is not incorrect but that’s not all. I have heard teachers that say that in an equation, the x is an unknown, but in an algebraic expression, the x is a variable because it can take any value. Is it this simple?”
If nothing else, this post may give you something to think about. It’s a quick read and I recommend it, actually for anyone with an interest in mathematics and letter symbols.