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September 5, 2011

The Community of Math Teachers, from Elementary School to Graduate School

Sybilla Beckmann:

Why should mathematicians be in- terested and involved in pre-K-12 mathematics education? What are the benefits of mathematicians working with school teachers and mathematics educators?1 I will answer these questions from my perspective of research math- ematician who became interested in mathematics education, wrote a book for prospective elemen- tary teachers, and taught sixth-grade math a few years ago. I think my answers may surprise you because they would have surprised me not long ago.

It's Interesting!

If you had told me twenty-five years ago, when I was in graduate school studying arithmetic geometry, that my work would shift toward improving pre-K- 12 mathematics education, I would have told you that you were crazy. Sure, I would have said, that is important work, it's probably hard, and somebody needs to do it, but it doesn't sound very interesting. Much to my surprise, this is the work I am now fully engaged in. It's hard, and I believe what I'm doing is useful to improving education, but most surprising of all is how interesting the work is.

Yes, I find it interesting to work on improving pre-K-12 math! And in retrospect, it's easy to see how it could be interesting. Math at every level is beautiful and has a wonderful mixture of intri- cacy, big truths, and surprising connections. Even preschool math is no exception.

Posted by Jim Zellmer at September 5, 2011 8:31 PM
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