What’s the Best Way to Teach High School Mathematics?

dockeryThat’s the question that inspired A.Blaine Dockery’s capstone project. Actually, says Blaine, that “was one of the first decisions that States adopting the Common Core for mathematics had to make back in 2010. States moving to the Common Core had to choose between…the traditional path (algebra 1, geometry, algebra II and a fourth high school math credit) or the integrated approach.”

The mathematics teacher found that integrated mathematics has had mixed reviews since it was introduced in the 1970s. In his paper, Blaine pointed out that one state – Georgia – adopted the approach, only to “reverse its decision some years later because of a consistently high failure rates, primarily among students with weaker math backgrounds.”

Blaine, who teaches at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts in Washington County, Maryland, has his own opinions. He favors an approach that presents students with real-world problems for them to collaborate on, which he describes as “more of an investigative learning situation, similar to what an experimental scientist would do.” Ultimately, however, the best way to teach the subject may depend “on the student’s math background and how they best learn.”