You are on page 1of 1

TEACHING PHILOSOPHY of APRIL E.

ROBINSON Teaching mathematics is not an easy task, especially when the mere mention of its name can cause individuals to feel as though they have just jumped of a high-rise building during the middle of a nervous breakdown all while enduring the symptoms associated with the common flu. All too often students come to math class with a pre-existing condition that prevents them from being able to function normally in a classroom environment. These students suffer from the ever popular and highly controversial disabling psychological condition known as math anxiety. For a large number of Ivy Tech students, math is one of the first courses they are faced with when returning to education after many years, and teaching that math class is much like being in the infantry. I am on the front line. Students have to get through me first. It is a passion of mine to help those that are mathematically-challenged, and my ultimate goal is to have students leave my class with a new and positive outlook on the study of mathematics. My philosophy of teaching mathematics is a simple one: Math is not a spectator sport! Students cannot just sit back in their chair and watch me work problems on the board. They have to pick up the ball (their pencil) and get down on the playing field (their paper) and work the problem themselves. Learn by doing not by watching is my contention. Another strategy I have is that the moment I walk into a classroom, I assume that the students know absolute ly nothing about math, and I do not chastise them is they actually dont. Even when there is a pre-requisite to the course, I assume that they either didnt learn what they should have or they learned it and forgot it. I too was once a student, and I know how it works. We study for the test and then forget about it! My objective is to teach the students what they need to know to successfully pass the class, even if that means I have to re-teach concepts that they should have mastered long ago. It is far more effective and fortuitous to give short mini-lessons throughout the semester than to be distracted by the weak knowledge base of my students. For me, teaching mathematics is relational. I allow my students to see that I am human, that I make mistakes, and that I can laugh at those mistakes. Developing personal relationships is a key factor in my success in the classroom. Another challenge that I am presented with is answering the question, When am I ever going to use this stuff? To that I say, You probably never will. After the looks of shock and dismay have faded, I then give this explanation: Studying mathematics is a training tool. It helps you train your brain to think a certain way. I always give the example of my college roommate who took the same four semesters of calculus as I, but who was told that she would use very little calculus in her career as a computer programmer. Of course the question is, why then did she have to take all that calculus? The answer is this: The thought process your brain goes through when working a calculus problem is the same thought process you go through when writing a computer program. You are training your brain to think analytically. If that doesnt convince them I then talk about how NFL football players often take ballet classes. You never see a football player doing an arabesque or a pirouette during the game, but by taking a ballet class a football player gains a very important skill that can help them out on the filed balance. Many athletes lift weights and do drills that most people never see during a game or a meet, but they need those strength exercises to master the skills needed to be the best at their sport. Working a math problem can provide the same results for your brain. Mathematics is a thinking tool, and for this reason it should be studied whether you use the concepts or not. It is not my intent to create an army of protractor-slinging mathematicians. My mission is to alleviate as much fear and anxiety about my subject as I can, while bolstering analytical thinking skills and comprehension of the concepts set forth in the objectives. I thrive on my students achievements and their compliments of my teaching ability, and I gain energy from that light bulb finally going on over their heads. For me, teaching has been a true joy in my life. Having the ability to touch someones life in a positive way as well as help them triumph over a subject that they have dreaded for most of their life is an incredible feeling that cannot be purchased in a store. Their achievement is my achievement, and it compels me to work that much harder. I want my students to be successful and enjoy their college experience so that they will want to return and continue on with their studies, math-related or not.