Mathematical modeling and reasoning and the mathematics curriculum
Wednesday, December 2, 2020, 6:00-7:00 p.m.
In our 2018 roadmap, we stated that ‘since the mathematics curriculum allows for the integration of high-level mathematical modeling and reasoning, we assume that the integration of new tasks will be welcomed’. The document pointed recent changes in the national curriculum that focused on elevating the levels of thinking and comprehension, therefore we were reassured that the time is ripe for introducing the applied skills.
In reality, we witnessed a more complex situation. Applying mathematics in real world contexts, which is articulated as a goal in many national curricula, is not so straightforward in Israel. Teachers are still focusing on knowledge and technique, while policy makers concentrate on closing the gap between middle and high schools and on raising the level of abstract thinking. In the sciences, which are taught in a multidisciplinary fashion, the goal is to expose students to a range of science topics, almost without the use of mathematics.
This being the case, we have begun to target the excellence classes in which there is room for integrating applied content, as part of the supplementary enrichment hours. However, when COVID-19 started, we notice mixed reactions. Some education officials said that enrichment became a luxury for them. Teachers however were suddenly drawn to the applied content as it helped them to motivate the students. It seems that the Ministry of Education is now taking very careful and measured steps to include some applied content in the curriculum.
Questions for deliberation
- What is the real difference between high order abstract mathematical thinking and the advanced applied skills? Are they indeed so different? How can a successful equilibrium between the two be reached?
- What should we be learn from other countries that have defined applied mathematics as part of their curriculum? What have been the achievements and what was the price they had to pay?
- Is applied mathematics expected to have more curricular weight in the coming years? How should the foundation proceed in light of these assumptions?
Background material for the discussion