kitchen table math, the sequel: "practice each skill in isolation"

Thursday, June 10, 2010

"practice each skill in isolation"

How to Survive Your College Math Class:
There is an overall pattern to learning mathematics. It applies to the structure of entire courses and it applies as well to your mastery of each of the skills you learn. You will recognize it as well if you have ever learned to play a sport or a musical instrument.

1. Practice each individual skill in isolation, under controlled circumstances, until you can do it easily and with con fidence.

2. Integrate the individual skills into sequences. Practice until you can chain skills together with di fferent variations, easily and with con fidence.

3. Practice in a realistic context, until you can deal with complete real world problems easily and with confi dence.

4. Go forth and solve real problems.

If you apply the suggestions here and make e ective use of the resources available to you (books, instructor, classmates), you are likely to suddenly find yourself doing mathematics, and maybe even liking it.

How to Survive Your College Math Class
(and Take Home Something of Value)
Matthew Saltzman and Marie Coffin
Department of Mathematical Sciences
Clemson University
Draft: August 25, 1998
There are few practices more frowned upon in public schools these days than teaching skills "in isolation." Hence: project based learning. Ed says if it were up to the schools, we wouldn't have subjects. We'd just have Subject.

Don't laugh.

They already tried it in Holland.

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