Monday, 17 November 2014

Ninja math

Talk at our house lately has been about inspiring young people to persist with challenging maths problems ALONE, only asking for help once they have exhausted all other possibilities.  In other words developing 'agency' - the ability to act.

Non-agentic behaviour is getting stuck and immediately asking for help.  Research shows that many learners lack the emotional skills to solve a task once they get stuck, or hit a wall.  All they can do, is ask for help, and hope they get it.  Hence they become helpless.  (see here and here for learned helplessness)

Not so the true mathematician - the true mathematician loves hitting the wall, because he/she can dig into their agency, their ability to ACT, to think, experiment, play, to solve and conquer that problem in a unique way.

The trick is to cultivate these dispositions.  Young people however, often have trouble knowing what to do when they get stuck.  I've been thinking about how to help them develop the skills.

Anyway, below was a poster I designed to be used with 10-13 year olds.  It's a draft, unfinished, but if anyone wants to take the idea and make it rock, feel free.

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