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Lunch Dates: Dan Meyer

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Lately, I’ve read a lot of articles and papers and expositions (with a Platonic-conversation-twist, even!) on how mathematics curricula is terrible and demoralizing and demeaning and meaningless.

Enter Dan Meyer. He doesn’t like the current direction math is “supposed” to be taught. He also has a TEDx talk, in which he describes student impatience and complacency that is awfully applicable to math and non-math subjects alike. His blog, dy/dan is already listed in my links (didja get the calculus joke?)

I think I first found Mr. Meyer through a random search online. I somehow got to this lesson on filling a water tank:


It was one of the first entries his series called “What Can You Do With This?” Through several of these videos, he refined the format for his WCYDWT videos. After more adjustments, he now creates Three-Act Tasks, a generalized pattern for everyday, yet simple, situations for students to create their own questions and puzzle through their own answers. Three-Act Tasks are now created and tweaked by his numerous blog and Twitter followers. Recently, he’s started a group effort to fix textbook questions into Three-Act Task formats, to make them more (frankly) interesting and applicable.

To me, it’s kinda sad that such a thoughtful teacher has left the profession in favor of a PhD. On the other hand, hopefully he can continue to inspire even more teachers online than he has already touched in his (pretty faithful) following.

What’s so compelling about Mr. Meyer? He seems like a genuine who truly wants to help kids not-hate math, and maybe even enjoy it a little. And, hey, individual thinking skills and actually creating curiosity in the classroom is not terrible either. Not only that, but he also seems to want to help other teachers re-engage with their enjoyment of teaching and sharing that passion with their students. You can’t get a whole lot better than that.

Questions during lunch:

  • Why did you enter teaching?
  • Why are you leaving teaching?
  • What do you miss about teaching? and not miss?
  • In your classroom, what kinds of assessments or rubrics or evaluation tools did you use to grade students?
  • What do you want to get from the, may I say, fantastic network of people you blog to/with?
  • What should general-society people know to be mathematically literate? Mathematically functional?
  • What makes a good student?
  • What makes a good teacher?
  • Is there a part of math that isn’t taught that should be?
  • You seem to have a beef with Khan Academy-style stuff (and I happen to agree). But what in particular bugs you about it more than textbooks or canned lessons? What do you think about online learning in general?
  • How do you feel about public verses private schools? Charters?
  • Is STEM learning the right solution?
  • What do you want to do once you finish your PhD?
  • What do you hope to hear from students who visit you in 5 or 10 years?
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