True math instruction can be so powerful! How can we actually get there???
Unfortunately, much of the math taught in our classrooms right now is "inside the box". Math should NOT be about finding the one correct answer, coloring in the answer bubble, or memorizing rules. Although memorizing math facts is a must for developing number fact fluency, this shouldn't dictate math instruction overall. Students need to learn that math is not cut and dried.
How do we get teachers to realize that math instruction is much more than just teaching each math standard one by one? No more math skill isolation! And, THIS IS EQUALLY IMPORTANT FOR THE YOUNGEST LEARNERS!!!
True mathematics is a nexus of order, patterns, and relationships between so many concepts. Critical thinking is key. Only through building, creating, problem solving, and exploring (with some guidance) do students really think and experience the "aha moments" necessary to tap out of the box and into the nexus. If students never tap into the nexus, how in the world do we expect to inspire and foster their potential for innovation?
Why are we "dumbing down" the math in this country? Yes, it's much harder to teach when skills do not have a beginning and an end. Math skills all overlap and connect with one another (and with so many other skills in other subjects). But, if we teach math "in the box", we trap our students in that box too. As one of my teacher colleagues said, "not only do we need to teach outside the box, we need to BURN the box!"