# Math class needs a makeover | Dan Meyer

## 100 thoughts on “Math class needs a makeover | Dan Meyer”

1. shiftyjake says:

I only discovered I liked math when I started helping kids with theirs. The way they were supposed to do the problems was stupid and I couldn't make any sense of it, so I ended up having to figure out the answer from the bottom up. Turns out it was actually fun. Sad thing is, the kids insisted they had to solve it the stupid way or it was wrong. WTF?

2. Losty says:

@simbeau
Tell me about it! My math teacher was mostly a gym teacher who did a bit of math on the side, and a dyslexic.

3. Archana Burra says:

omg hes so great, young and idealistic. it took me to till my second, third, or mayve even…fourth? year of college (as a math major) to not totally fear the basic shitty model of learning I picked up in highschool. I thought I was great at math.. i was very good at math, and awesome at reading textbook code. I remember the teachers I've had that taught me this skill (which I have still yet to master) and they were the rare reasons that I became a math major!

4. JohnMichael Bell says:

He definitely found the key to the problem: that kids are only looking for an exact formula to copy, either from a text book or from another student. However, in a real job, you won't have an encyclopedia of formulas for every possible situation. The problem with his solution is that he needs to find a way to get individual students thinking on their own, outside of a class discussion where the smart kids do all the work.

5. rh001YT says:

@shiftyjake The problem solving algorithms in math are the result of proofs worked out by past math geniuses. There is only one right way to solve a math prob, and students are expected to show the steps – how else can a teacher know that they "get it"? A real prob with math is that it is usually taught as a game of algorithms without providing the insights which led to the algorithms in the first place. Few learn what the quadratic equation is about, but may be able to solve algorithmicly.

6. shiftyjake says:

@rh001YT I'm not sure how interesting math history would be to the 3rd and 4th graders I was dealing with, but it wouldn't address the main problem. By all means, the kids should show their work, but my issue was that they were more concerned with the baffling and redundant instructions given them than with actually solving the problem in whatever way got the job done. Also, there were several ways to solve the problems given to the kids as homework.

7. shiftyjake says:

@rh001YT BTW, I love history, so I'd be fascinated my the history of math.

8. rh001YT says:

@shiftyjake See David Bernstein's books: Infinite Ascent, A Brief Tour of the Calculus and History of the Algorithm. These books are great at explaining the fundamentals of math and how math progressed throughout history. The books are very inexpensive new and used at Amazon. Regarding History of the Algorithm, I got lost at the halfway point, where things get very abstract – after that the material is for math majors only. For a super mental workout: Critique of Pure Reason (free on internet)

9. shiftyjake says:

@rh001YT Thanks

10. rh001YT says:

@shiftyjake BTW, when teaching or tutoring math fundamental #1 is that the child has memorized the axioms & can repeat them on demand. The child must be advised that the axioms are unprovable & merely obvious. Theorems are proved w/ the axioms. Theorems can be memorized & used without necessarily knowing the proofs. Most word probs are to be graphed or visualized on the Cartesian coordinate system. Time, distance/volume, & gravity(weight/mass) are usually denominators due to how the mind works.

11. shiftyjake says:

@rh001YT That's a little advanced for kids who are just getting their heads around negative numbers. They aren't introduced to graphs til 5th or 6th grade and they generally don't know words like "axiom" and "theorem". They're still memorizing their times tables. Okay, some of them are memorizing their times tables. Most of them are just using the multiplication chart in the book because apparently they're allowed to.

12. rh001YT says:

@shiftyjake Well, that speaks to the prob with math education. The axioms are the rules of the game, like the rules of a card game or sport. Aristotle is said to have coaxed a 6 yr old slave boy into figuring out how to "double the (area of a) square", illustrating that the axioms are built into the mind. Kids can leard the rules to a card game, board game or sport, so they can learn/memorize the axioms (algebra & geom). Multiplication table up to 12 should be in memory by end of grade 4.

13. rh001YT says:

@shiftyjake Negative numbers: it ought to be explaned early on (grade 1 emphasized thru grade 5) that negative numbers are value statements about "bad", negative=negro=black=dark&scary=crime undercover of darkness=dead&rotting=debt=loss=bad. So the Hindus it is said invented negative nums to keep track of debts. "0", from the Hindus = debt paid. Also, as to quantities (and energy), there never is actual loss, but the quantities move, say from person 2 person, thus total quantitiy remains same.

14. shiftyjake says:

@rh001YT I care less about whether they've memorized the times table (I never memorized the 7's) than if they get the concept of multiplication so that they can figure it out by adding if they needed to. My point is that problem solving is why math as we know it exists, and problem solving is its practical application. Unfortunately, that's not how it's being taught.

15. rh001YT says:

@shiftyjake I agree that in too many settings math is not taught as concretely as it could be, but at the same time the students do get a lot of word problems which are "problem solvings". The prob with the array of world probs is that they are too scattered so the students puzzle it together, such as noting that time, space & gravity are usually the denominator, & that quite often a value judgement is implicit. Note however that math exists in the mind regardless of problem solving.

16. Xenuism says:

In my school the best math teachers were only teaching the best students.The rest of us were lumped into shit classes run by the weakest teachers.I guess it was the schools way of deciding who the factory workers would be.

I can honestly say I have learned more new things in the last seven years on my own, then in my twelve years of public school.I spent my entire childhood thinking I was stupid, and lo and behold it turned out it was the education system itself that sucked.

17. William Piano says:

Math textbooks are boring, Khan Academy for the win

18. Divi says:

@rh001YT But generally, axioms in maths (at least at the level we are discussing) are so intuitive, that stating them outright isnt necessary…in fact, it might just confuse the kids.

19. rh001YT says:

@divicool72 I disagree. When the axioms are not spelled out, and the students informed that they are intuitive and not provable, a great deal is cleared up for the student. And a few of the axioms are not very intuitive, such as closure. When the axioms are memorized, then as more maths are learned the student will, hopefully, identify which axioms are in play as the basis for each new learning. As with the axioms of chess, a move is or is not allowable according to the axioms.

20. Jeffrey Thompson says:

Why every lecture that is given, is always to the ones who already understand the subject.What happens to the numerous students and adults that don't understand.

21. Dan says:

This was never a problem for me, because I've always, by some nature, been interested and intuitive with numbers, shapes, and generally, math. However, this also made it very confusing for me to watch many of my fellow classmates struggle to grasp what were very intuitive concepts for me. This video does an excellent job of clearing up that confusion. I applaud his quote of Einstein. Discovering the origin of a useful formula is always more interesting than learning to use the formula.

22. maynardr6 says:

I recognized this when I was little. Turns out it makes me just as angry thinking about it as it did when I was drudging through it. I am predisposed to forgetting (with lightning speed) anything that I can't be convinced is useful to me. It made school so hard for me. (angry still)

23. Felicia108 says:

Need more teachers like him!

24. Jimin Kim says:

I wish I was in his class… He would make my Geometry class more fun!

25. TheNZNick says:

This is great, better than the other math teacher one because he starts tackling the problem of making maths relevant rather than avoiding it.

26. Gala Multi Events says:

@mathesssful they watch thr video 🙂

27. Cerdafied says:

I'd respectfully disagree with that last statement, bje, and say that as you get to more advanced math, the closer your maths approximates reality.

28. Jeffrey Thompson says:

Hope everyone would watch these videos and make their comments.Thanks.

29. Samar Singh says:

Can we really separate the phenomenon that Meyer talks about from the issue of assessment – where students are tested almost exclusively on the relationship between data and information? Quite understandably this ultimately becomes the objective of the teaching profession. Most of those forced to study maths never need to solve an equation. What they need to do is to be able to model real life uncertainty in mathematical terms. Mathcad, R etc. can do the computation for them.

30. eXecuteD3101 says:

Why Im so Dummy xD ! Math 🙁 !

31. xoshi says:

I've had a few good math teachers in my lifetime but none of them were as creative as this guy. Wish more teachers thought like him

32. user-098 says:

Teaching is an art, it's just like drawing or playing instruments. Not everyone can do it right.

33. Poppy Tangerine says:

Bravo to this man.

How is homosexuality relevant to this video again?

34. Hamza Islam says:

where do you teach??

35. Hilary Hannigan says:

This video was pretty interesting. I liked his analogy at the beginning about how students are like consumers who are forced to buy something they don't want to buy. He had a lot of valid points and the ones at the end seem like they might be very helpful for many teachers.

36. kriptanight77 says:

Im going through the exact same thing you did. Its difficult because you are right they do put the best teachers into the more advanced classes. Everyday in my math class all we do is look at a board and watch my teacher do math exercises, not once does she ever really explain the problem. Am i really learning?

37. EquinoxAwesome says:

Id say 19. Although the one with the 4 people has less items, they'll each have to say hello, get their check, give the lady their money, etc.

38. Csodás Világ says:

And teaching, just as drawing and playing an instrument, can be learned.

39. user-098 says:

Well, maybe you can learn the basics of drawing or playing instruments, but you won't be able to perfect the art unless you are gifted or talented.

40. Csodás Világ says:

Way more than the basics. You won't become a composer or an artist, but you will be able to draw great portraits or play very difficult and nice songs.
Sure, obviously we can't have all teachers being great educators like Feynman, but we don't even need so.
Quite right that you can't be the greatest without talent (which mostly comes from childhood education, not from genetics, in my opinion), but you can get to very high levels, well above the basics.

41. user-098 says:

You may be able to play a very difficult song if you're trying very very hard, but it would be much easier if you had the talent. I mean by hard work you may be able to be good at something, but the problem is most teachers thinks that teaching is an easy job so they don't work really hard to be good at it.

42. Q L says:

Applause to the short at the end.

43. uncleratty says:

22 people think that the US is just fine being at the bottom of developed countries in math aptitude

44. luffis1985 says:

Google lockhart's lament. Read about how this, what is shown in the video, the idea that math is about solving problems. Useful problems, useless problems, fun facetious nugatory problems, with the mind alone (and a touch of pen and paper). It is what math education should be about.

It depends on which checkout lane has the little old lady who still pays with checks.

46. mrlincolnlamar says:

I could not agree more!

47. 1337flight says:

This is exactly what i was thinking my math teacher has to just fly through everythin and just barly teach us because she has so much fucking ground to cover and then she just drills the steps in our head with mass amounts of hw.

48. Mhammerable says:

maybe we should get rid of the standardized tests…

49. Cristine Chen says:

Hope I had him as my math teacher, math would definitely be less traumatic!

50. starrecipe9 says:

I've observed this myself, but there is something else I have observed. There are usually several students who struggle at just the basics. There are students who still struggle to plot points or subtract negative numbers. I think, even with a lot of material to cover, teachers should slow down and focus on the core ideas. Whizzing through 50 topics where 25% of your class didn't even master the basics sounds pointless to me. They clearly aren't learning it in that way.

51. starrecipe9 says:

Of course, what about the more mathematically mature students? I think that's where in-class open-ended exercises come in. I'm in a college math class where we work on problems during class. We don't all make the same amount of progress on the problem. Weak and strong students alike find themselves struggling at some stage, but everyone learns something. The point is the problem is appropriate for a very wide range of mathematical maturity. Stronger students just go deeper, but everyone learns.

52. starrecipe9 says:

Last thing…it's also a ton of fun. Now I know I chose to study math, but I still find math lectures boring most of the time. It's a lot of just cramming information into your brain, and if any questions arise then they are resolved in a matter of seconds. I actually struggle to stay awake sometimes, and that never happens in the class where we work on problems. I'm full of energy when I work on the problems, even when I'm really tired.

53. 1337flight says:

cool

54. Raederle Phoenix says:

This TED talk made me think. I love that! This actually makes me want to take a math class… From Dan! 🙂

55. Jon says:

Tell me about it. I barely scraped a C in school, after being thrown in the lowest classes throughout. Got forced into doing it at college(In Britain, that is ages 16-18 before university). and now I am achieving decent A grades in all my maths qualifications, and I am starting my mathematics degree in October.

56. Er3s says:

"I'm gonna retire in a world that my students will run" that should enough for anyone who educates or trains others to care about their subjects and the material they teach

57. QueenxofxthexBurbs says:

The education system is a joke. I LOVE this video and it's going to help me take my teaching to the next level. I LoVe teaching math and I'm quite good at it, but now I can really start to master it. Thanks!

58. Baneli says:

No No, that's your parents' income level who decide that.

59. MrArtiisan says:

"General education can make you a living,self education can make you a fortune"-Jim rohn

60. mine mineII says:

I always got good grade for effort in all subjects. In math. At first I was OK, but the algeabra I really stuggle a lot. I failed the state examination but still got a D in the class, I did all the homework and the teacher new I put a lot of effort. But the geometry teacher next year failed me in the class. I failed the big exam but still did well in class and much effort and I even brought her homemade cookies once in a while. She should have given me at least a D. All that effort and an F

61. Ann Karoline says:

We watched this in our class two days ago and it really opened my eyes as a teacher student. Amazing!

62. mine mineII says:

Where is he, is it the guy with the Sombrero on!

63. 1337flight says:

im gay

64. Simeon Nikilov says:

lolz I learned this shit in 5th grade

65. Rameen Salehi says:

Anybody watch the short film after the TED talk?

66. Tom Fairhall says:

great talk and amazing animation at the end 🙂

67. Michele Schottenbauer says:

Kids need math and science education that engages real, exciting topics.  Often, the concepts and problems are too abstract, and don't engage their interest.  With that said, limits in intelligence due to the inherent nature of the bell curve (the natural distribution of intelligence in the population) prohibits many from learning either math or science as well as might be hoped.

68. Krantz 4Christ says:

it is encouraging that to see someone who will really educate in a real word type environment

69. weesh says:

we also need more teachers like this

70. kingmike40 says:

The problem is the people who buy the text books for the school.

71. watchthe1369 says:

Teaching to think, rather than teaching the answers.

72. watchthe1369 says:

I like the end cartoon too.  Life solving itself………

73. Mario852 says:

@ 2:00.
Score in my classroom : 5/5.

And that's the second best teacher I had in my life.
My school must suck by international standards…

Competing with students having a teacher like Dan Meyer just isn't fair :/

74. HHGilean says:

Speaking as a teacher: Yes. Very much yes.

75. Mckenna Cisler says:

I think computer science and "computational thinking" could help solve this. In computer science, we are forced to create the formula to solve the problem, sometimes even before we begin the problem. If we teach math alongside these concepts, we may be able to better preserve and connect with math the computational and abstract thinking that Dan Meyer hopes we will retain.

76. minch333 says:

So American!

77. Terry Xiong says:

The problem with this is that it takes much more time. It would be plausible in high school, but in college, the professor has to move fast and just teach the base material due to time restrictions. If teachers could incorporate this material seamlessly with the material present while being able to make sure that all aspects of the lesson are taught.

78. cleverest says:

What an awesome math teacher!

79. YIC says:

i took university physics, and that was not how my questions were at all…
you couldn't just "plug it into the formula"
we had to make our own formula using calculus and linear algebra

80. Jennifer Fas says:

I have watched this video many times and each time it inspires me.  Dan Meyer suggests that problems with too much guidance stifles thinking.  By stripping away all the excess information, we can allow our students to think critically and solve real-life problems.  What a great idea!

81. Amy Jensen says:

Love it when kids actually have to think.

82. Hao Sun says:

mathematical modeling

83. jmculve says:

A kinetic energy formula? Really? You give THAT as your example?
Physicists routinely use formulas in problems and they typically
go way beyond the "reasoning" your are talking about in math classes;
and, I know because I have taught BOTH physics and math classes.
In science formulas represent physical laws and MUST be used to
solve problems in that context–so it is counterproductive to suggest
they not.

84. Noah Williams says:

Does anyone have a link to that video with the container being filled with water?

85. igrewold says:

Excellent presentation. I'd like to add one more point, making interesting math games for computers, tablets & mobiles by a group of educators, children psychologists, sociologists, & software developers. Something like Angry Birds but for math.

86. jess mackinnon says:

I think this is a very interesting view on using textbooks in mathematics. My students I have taught in the past have each had individual issues with the textbook, may that be not understanding the wording of textbooks or may that be they know how to decode the textbook. When I was in high school I knew how to decode the textbook and I did well through cheating through the textbook. Overall great concept.

87. The Bearded Math Man says:

I love using Dan Meyers videos in class. But if your classroom management isn't on point, things can go awry.

88. HeyHannah says:

Seems like visual learning is the way to go. We need to restructure the traditional learning system to be more visual based and incorporate active learning and make learning fun. 😊

89. Aysan Sarai says:

I wish I had a teacher like him!!

90. WORLDWIDEGAMINGUNIVERSITY.COM says:

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91. Jenna Rechenmacher says:

I love this!!

92. Graciela Ducau says:

Buenas tardes tendrían los subtítulos del video?

93. Competent Thinker says:

Well this is what common core math is about….

94. Island Rhythms says:

People be careful of this guy Dan Mayers, he is a scam artists, a scammed my niece made her leave her husband to moved to Oakland to have an affair with him. His wife found out went by my nieces house started cutting my nieces tire. Be aware of him people.

95. Kevin Gomes says:

Dan Meyer has done a truly inspring job in this Ted talk. Meyer does an excellent job outlining a varitey of issues surrounding a typical math classroom. At its core, Meyer is suggesting that educators need to stop their traditional practices, and introduce a problem based approch to teaching. Furthermore, he suggests educators should refrain from providing students with too much assistance, but instead, allow them to think critically and develop a more authentic learning experience; one which is more true to their own life. The key emphasis is placed on the fact that to be successful in mathematics, we need to promote patient problem solving skills, which is not found in tradition textbook style of teaching (it is very cookie cutter). Having spent over a decade in math classes myself, it is regretable that the majority of Math classes continue to use a traditional textbook based learning process. It is clear that making vast changes to the math curriculum is not an easy feat, as the problem continue to persist 8 years later. Nonetheless, I myself plan to take a page from Dan Meyer's Talk, and work towards implementing his suggestions into my own classoom someday.

96. Speach Lobes says:

That was excellent!

97. Ítalo says:

Umas das melhores palestras que já assisti.

98. Artyom Arty says:

This wouldn’t change anything. Just shift some things around. The stupid kids might now understand math a little more, but the smart kids would be sitting there yawning as they are perfectly capable of painting a picture in their own heads without you drawing anything. This really sounds like you want to teach math to kids with ADD.

You can’t fix primary education because the problem is mainly in the home. In my country, for example, if a kid was behind in math or native language at a young age, the parents would be notified and parents would feel ashamed. So the parents would do everything to teach their kid so he can catch up and not get held back a year and be called stupid by peers. In US, good luck finding a parent who would teach his 4 year old how to read. And if the kid does bad at school, it’s always the teachers fault…

The other problem with US is that you have kids of different IQ in the same classroom. Generally speaking, you’ve got Hispanics and blacks who are significantly behind in every subject trying to learn alongside whites and Asians and Indians who are years ahead in IQ

99. Artyom Arty says:

Math is not supposed to be “fun”. It can be fun to many without pictures or slides or word problems. There are some students who actually go to school to learn and you will take that fun from them by forcing an entire class to slowly chew up a 5 second problem for 20 minutes

100. Perma ville says:

Great talk. Thank you !