Where has curiosity gone in the Math classroom?

According to Knuth (2002), young children have a natural curiosity about the world in which they live.  Unfortunately, this curiosity, particularly with respect to mathematics, often seems to disappear by the time they reach secondary school. Tracy Zager asked a group of students, “Where do you think Mathematicians get the problems they work on?” Two responses, “Maybe their teachers give’em to them?” and “From the book?”  Here is how a Mathematician answered the question:.

The best problems are your own.  You are the intrepid mental explorer; it’s your mind and your adventure.  Mathematical reality is yours – it’s in your head for you to explore any time you feel like it.  What are your questions? Where do you want to go?… Don’t be afraid that you can’t answer your own questions – that’s the natural state of the mathematician… What makes a mathematician is not technical skill or encyclopedic knowledge but insatiable curiosity and a desire for simple beauty.  Just be yourself and go where you want to go.  Instead of being tentative and fearing failure or confusion, try to embrace the awe and mystery of it all and joyfully make a mess,  Yes, your ideas won’t work.  Yes, your intuition will be flawed.  Again, welcome to the club! I have a dozen bad ideas a day and so does every other mathematician. (Lockhart 2012)

AT BCIT they are…

The problem

Many high school students are avoiding math, and cutting off pathways to exciting technical careers before they even know about them. High school curriculum has few “real-world” problems. Leaders in industry and government worry about coming skills shortages, especially in technical areas.

Parents and teachers alike have heard the question “why do I need to learn this?” Concept by concept, it’s frequently difficult to come up with a convincing answer. Educators needs to make the Math meaningful. The new curriculum does that.

Visit Peter Lijefahl’s (a SFU Education Professor) website at for some excellent resources to use in your classroom

Question, Questions Questions!!! A strategy that you can use in your classroom to have students come up with questions is the gallery walk.  Give them a picture and see what they come up with.



Click on the following link to my Secondary Mathematics Notebook. If you want the ability to add to it please email me and I will give you access to add resources (



  • Secondary Mathematics Notebook

    TABLE of CONTENTS for the Notebook

    • Articles
    • Strategies
    • Websites
    •  Grades
      • Math 7
      • Math 8
      • Math 9
      • Math 10
      • Math 11
      • Math 12
    • Assessment
    • Professional Resources
    • Ministry Updates
      • K-9
      • Starting Points in Planning
      • 10-12
      • QA for Graduation

    The following links to a notebook created for Secondary Mathematics Teachers. Click HERE.



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