That’s Cheating

Well, the Escape from the Textbook conference last weekend was fun. I always like having the excuse to see all of my nerdy math friends and former colleagues. The conference was pretty good. The speakers were great, and I hear Avery put on a good workshop…

Jo Boaler was the first speaker, and pretty much everything she talks about is interesting. I like how she talks about things that I know are true, but that she has the research data to back that sh*t up. She was talking about a research study that she had done at Stanford for the summer school program that is run there. Cool, constructivist education stuff. She showed us interview statements from students, video, and test scores. As expected, students preferred the engaging, problem-solving, more challenging teaching to their traditional classes during the school year. And they did better…but anyways.

One thing in particular that I found interesting–a little tidbit–was the idea that students shared about one of the new methods they were learning: solving a simpler problem first.

No, the students declared. You can’t do that–it’s cheating.

Wow! One of the best methods for solving problems with multiple cases, one of the best methods for developing pattern sniffing, and the students believe that using it is cheating. That is a failure of mathematics education right there.

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