The Habits of a Mathematician: MYP Related Concepts

I just modified Bryan Meyer’s Habits of a Mathematician (though I can’t remember where I got them) to use with my students. I plan on promoting these on a daily basis. It would be great to know what you think, whether anything should be changed, added or omitted.

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5 Responses to The Habits of a Mathematician: MYP Related Concepts

  1. Paul Reimer says:

    What a great way to help reorient student thinking toward true mathematical activity. Will there be many misconceptions about what it means to do mathematics you’ll have to confront? For example, what do students currently think about mistakes? I’d like to share these with teachers and am wondering if there’s some “unlearning” students will have to engage in at the same time.

    • Hey Paul,

      I see what you mean. I guess there will be barriers at first but I hope that by the end of Grade 10/Year 11, they’ll have all of these habits. I hope there won’t be misconceptions about what it means to do Mathematics as I think that would reflect badly on the way that I am asking them to learn the subject. If I promote deep thinking, problem solving and inquiry at all times, then they’ll be engaging with the habits at all times.

      • Paul Reimer says:

        Dan – I think that’s a great perspective. Promoting deep thinking and problem solving is probably the best way to change perpectives. Thanks for sharing.

  2. meyerbryan says:

    Obviously, I am super excited that you are trying this out for yourself this year. I found the experience of developing these for myself (by sorting through the “habits” developed by others before me) to be very powerful as a way of pushing myself to look critically at what math is and at what I value in a mathematics education.

    Of course, I became very passionate and excited about them because they were things that I valued. As Paul (I think) mentioned, students will likely have a very different definition of what math is (depending on their experience). So, one significant challenge was how to develop this, or something very similar, WITH the students…so that they owned them as arising out of their own thinking. This creates an obvious(?) tension…1. they view math as something different, 2. we want to shift that towards something like these habits, and 3. we want THEM to generate that definition?!?!

    I don’t have many answers, but I’m leaning towards thinking that these habits must be recognized by them as productive actions that they recognize in their own work. As I think you read in my grad school thesis, I believe these are actions that ALL people engage in….they are sort of wired into how we think and make sense of our experience. So, over time I think they are likely to emerge if the conditions are open enough to allow students room to think for themselves. I’m rambling now so I’ll stop. 🙂

    Sounds like fun work….please keep us posted!!!!

    • Hey Bryan,

      That’s a great point and one that I have also been thinking about. I agree that simply imposing these habits onto students would reduce impact. I hope therefore to engage them in self and group reflection during and after tasks so that we can edge these types of habits out as time goes on. I certainly won’t be presenting them as ‘holy grail’ from day one.

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