Hamburg - Here we come!
Well, it would appear we'll be heading to Hamburg Germany to attend and present a paper at the ICME 'Mathematics in and for Work' conference. I have to say I'm pretty excited. I've never been to Europe so it's a new experience for me.
The article is fairly simple, it's looking at learner engagement patterns within a particular classroom. It doesn't address a whole lot of theory and hence does little in the way of answering either why learners engage in different ways, or what we can do about it. I sometimes wonder if I'm making everything more difficult by making classroom interactions so much more complex. But I quickly think of the quote attributed to Einstein: If I had one hour to solve a problem, I would spend the first 55 thinking about the problem and five about the solution.
I think my research is part of the 55 minute problem-exploration component. Without which, we may offer trite solutions to problems we don't really understand.
A brief example can be found in the fact that many mathematics research articles on reform-or constructivist-based mathematics often end with a list of recommendations for teachers such as; value and promote discussion, value conjectures and justifications, draw on classroom knowledge and so on. But HOW do you do this in a class of adults who do not want to make conjectures, but simply want you to show them how to solve the darn problem.
"Just show me how to do it!" he screamed at the tutor, who up to now had refused to do so. The tutor ignoring the growing frustration kept repeating "Tell me how you have been trying to solve it?"
Clang! - goes the clash of beliefs about how maths ought to be learned.
The issue of poor learner engagement is not purely a pedagogical issue, yet that is usually how it is framed. It's complex baby! And we'll be discussing it in Germany!