On a trip down to Philadelphia for a mini family vacation, one of my daughters (I am a father of twin seven year old girls and a three year old baby sister) shared how they learned math through daily contributions to a Math Journal. My wife asked the twins questions about the daily assignment and how it helped them learn math. After some initial explaining by the twins, one of them asked how we learned math. My wife shared experiences as a math student when she was in school.
The conversation revealed differences between the authentic application of math the twins were exposed to and the memorization and recall assignments my wife had to address. Even after the conversation switched to where we wanted to go first in Philadelphia, I was still thinking about the exchange. I guess one would hope that the way I or my wife learned math would differ from the learning engagements prepared for my daughters.
The world I grew up in is different in so many ways from that of my girls. My three year old can sit at the computer an navigate her way through a series of links. One of the twins is a budding photographer, snapping shots on her digital camera or shooting video using an iPod Nano. This daughter snapped her way through Philadelphia in preparation for her scrap booking class. They are growing up in a world where the demands and tools to access and share information is so vastly different.
What truly resonated was how different is school from let's say 15-20 years ago and today. Would my 9th grade experience differ from current 9th graders? For that matter could a teacher use the same lesson plans from 10, 5 or even last year? There should be notable differences between in the way class and learning is structured.
The kicker of the exchange was after listening to how my wife explained the ways she learned math, one twin asked if dinosaurs were alive when we went to school. She was joking, however, it provided a humorous take on the differences between the first and last row of the family mini van.