Math education speaker stresses clarity, simplicity

Math should make sense for students of all ages.

That’s what Linda Gojak, president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, sets out to achieve.

In a presentation to students looking to become math teachers, Gojak addressed misconceptions in mathematics and outlined effective teaching methods.

“Your number one goal is to help students make reason and sense of what they are doing,” Gojak said.

Making sense, she said, comes from clarity and simplicity in teaching by not relying on shortcuts.

“Stay away from tricks unless the students discover them on their own,” said Gojak.

Sophomore Jaryt Salvo agreed with Gojak’s statement about the way teachers talk to students.

“That’s what gets to students,” said Salvo. The presentation seemed more geared to teachers of younger students but it was still good, said Salvo.

Another sophomore, Steve Suida, said the presentation was very interesting and helpful to math majors.

“The point she made about shortcuts is really profound,” said Suida. “You have to let them get to those steps.”

It was interesting to be able to go back and look at the early math, said Mike Crago, a senior education major.

“I am a student teacher so I thought it would be cool to hear the president of NCTM talk,” Crago said. “I plan on using her tips this week.”

The presentation was organized by the BGSU Student Council on the Teaching of Mathematics.

Gojak said she does multiple presentations a week, to various universities and community colleges

“The BGCTM is a professional development organization for math majors,” said co-president of BGCTM Jessica Stephens.

The BGCTM organized the event after learning of Gojak’s interest. They organize lots of opportunities for students to talk to math teachers, said co-president Amber Pietro.

“She was interested in coming and from there it was just how do we get her here,” Pietro said.

Most of all, Gojak wants math education to be easy for both the teacher and the student.

“The way we teach and way kids learn should make sense,” Gojak said.