Hi. I’m Dan Meyer. I taught high school math to students who didn’t like high school math. I have advocated for better math instruction here and on CNN, Good Morning America, Everyday With Rachel Ray, and TED.com. I currently study math education at Stanford University, speak internationally, and work with textbook publishers, helping them move from education’s print past to its digital future. I was named one of Tech & Learning’s 30 Leaders of the Future and an Apple Distinguished Educator. I live in Mountain View, CA.
 My name is Dan Meyer and I like to teach.
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Dan,
Thanks for the kind words about my new blog, MathNotations. Nothing is more gratifying than a compliment from one’s peer. I will return the compliment by adding your blog to my roll and I will post an acknowledgment as well. You are putting the lie to the idea that math teachers can’t be great writers – you are that and much more. You say what needs to be said concisely and your words have a ‘cutting edge’ (now there’s a different use of that term!). I won’t hold the vernacular of your age against you if you can accept my decrepit style of writing!!
Since I am not yet Web 2.0 ‘compliant’, and barely 1.0, I’m struggling to make my blog look good and do what it’s supposed to do. I’ve received ZERO comments thus far and I’m guessing that visitors can’t get log on or I haven’t enabled comments. Did you try? Pls email me at dmarain@rih.org.
I’m very excited about the math warmups but there’s a limited audience for math and I feel like I will quickly lose the interest of the nonmath people who were attracted to my blog because of joannejacobs and WaPo. I will have a fun warmup for Monday so check it out even though it will appear to be more grade 47 oriented. The geometry problem is definitely a turnoff for edubloggers and most visitors who want controversy! But that’s ok, because good math problems need to be shared and I am always looking for new ideas. As you can tell I am trying to convey that there is much more to the math than can be covered in a 5 minute warmup. These questions can be generalized, extended and developed but time doesn’t permit that. I usually tell my students to do more with them and submit their ideas or solutions by 3 PM the same day or email me by 11 PM for extra credit. That works well with students who are already motivated and grade conscious. I use frequent online quizzes for my less motivated class and that has had limited success. We have threaded discussions that allow our students to dialogue before a quiz or test. I’m not into wiki because I don’t yet see the value of others revising student work or ideas, although I can see a real advantage of commenting on other’s work (including asking questions). I can do that to their submissions but I haven’t yet enabled this for students. I’m never afraid to try new things but I have to feel that it will somehow improve student learning. That kind of thinking however may be too inflexible for the 21st century! You never really know until you try it! I do ask my students every day if this or that tech innovation is helping them and they are dead honest about it — I learn so much from them!!
Keep up the great work, Dan. You have one of the best blogs I’ve read thus far and I wish my children could have you as their teacher.
Dave Marain
I am at that point where I may become a statistic. You know, the one that says teachers today have a three to five year career span. I have always been a head strong, stubborn to fault, telling me I can’t do it only makes me want to succeed so I can rub it in your face, I eat whiners for breakfast, if I don’t like it I change it, type of person. I can thank my father for that. But for the first time this system of education, the reforms, the politics and the constant drone of “That’s the way it is and you’ll never change it, so live with it.” is starting to get to me! Will I persevere? Thank you for your insights, I found this blog at a good time and look forward to reading more.
Yeah, good luck with all this, Christina. I think it feels good and cathartic just to say the words, “I could leave, I really could,” to tell yourself that, in spite of all sorts of professional disappointments, you maintain your autonomy. You’re in control here. You could leave. We both could, but I don’t think we will. Longevity and skill correlate pretty highly in this job. The good ones stay, if only because they know how desperately teaching pines for their kind.
Hey Dan,
I am a Junior in high school and I am writing a paper on how homework is hurting students and I was very interested by your view of this subject. You make some very important point about how it is the teacher’s lack of planning that leads to large amounts of homework. It’s nice to know that there are teachers out there that feel the same way as some students. I just wish my math teacher would be more like you. Keep up the good work.
Rachelle, you feel like emailing me that paper when you’re done, I’d be interested in a student perspective. dan at mrmeyer dot com
[…] Blogger: Dan Meyer Location: Santa Cruz, CA Blog Title: Dy/Dan […]
After reading your blog, I think I just might possibly be in love with you… : )
xoxo
a fellow math teacher in Austin
Dan… great website. I can only hope that someday my children will have the benefit of a math teacher who seems to see right through the rhetoric the way you do.
Christina… please don’t become a statistic. We need head strong, stubborn to a fault teachers who will stand up to the bureaucracy that schools have become. I know it’s not easy by any stretch, but look for parents who get it. We’re out there and we’ll stand up for you when it’s clear that you’re doing what it takes to teach our kids.
Thanks guys… you give parents hope…
[…] about page really tells the story. I’m Dan Meyer. Three Four years ago I lucked into a job I love. […]
Hey, Dan. You seem like the ideal person to answer a question I have had for a long time:
Why did I “get” geometry so much more than algebra?
This seems related (but may not be) to a series of “tweets” I was making the other day, which ran generally thusly:
I STILL don’t know all my multiplication tables. Safe to say I’ll never know them all. [Seems like a bunch of rote, boring memorization to me — and something a computer can do just as well (better!)]
But I have been moved almost to tears by lectures delivered by a REAL mathematician, seeing the TRUTH and the purpose and MEANING behind the mathematical questions. If I had known that beauty sooner maybe I’d have memorized that rote crap by now. And even if i hadn’t, aren’t I better off to have seen the mountaintop than not?
I remember my father teaching me “algebra” on the porch at our house one day when I was 7 or 8 — not teaching major formulas, but just showing me how it might be true that you could actually find out the answer to a math problem if you didn’t know all the numbers. The concept of X. Wow. Now THAT was interesting.
I’ve always been interested when a math teacher goes into the “why” of a math question…. and the “how” of figuring it out…. but making me do it 96 times after proving the formula always seemed pointless to me…. just a bunch of “plugging in” to formulas.
So, I guess my question is twofold: why don’t math teachers deal more in theory than they did when I was in school? And does this desire to know more about the theory of math have anything to do with my (relative) enjoyment of geometry?
The geometry/algebra predicament in which everyone — absolute everyone who hasn’t made math a career — prefers one or the other can be explained (kinda reductively) by saying that some people deal better with visuals than abstractions.
People who enjoy Geometry tend to enjoy pictures and shapes.
People who enjoy Algebra tend to enjoy logic, puzzles, making both sides of the equation balance, etc.
Let’s be plain that no matter which category you fall into, dozens upon dozens of rote problems is a mistake. Doesn’t matter the unit, math has so much potential for depth that pounding away at the same nail over and over again isn’t just cruel, it’s a waste.
For folks like you who enjoy visuals & abstractions, I can only wholeheartedly recommend a year of calculus, the first time the two play — I mean really play — together.
Just an example:
Next time you’re driving on the highway, look for a second off to your left, and the stuff whizzing past you. Then imagine your car as the stationery object in this scene and then watch as those fence posts nearby whiz past you while those mountains off in the distance amble slowly by.
If you know calculus, you know there are only two variables that matter, the distance of the object (fence post or mountain) from your car and the speed of your car. You can take the visual and turn it into an equation and it’s basically impossible to look at anything in life the same way ever again.
In some ways, I wish I could go back to school and learn the things I should have learned. It’s funny b/c I was just telling someone the other day that I don’t even know what calculus is… like what it’s supposed to be studying. I regret this.
I remember that I liked the math I did in my physics class. (I think my father had told me at the time that it was largely trig, but again, I don’t know for sure.) I think I liked it for two reasons: 1) like the example you gave above, it was related to a lab, so it made sense, i.e. I was given the chance to see the real point and, 2) he didn’t GIVE the formula, we were supposed to figure it out.
I think that’s what I’m saying…. that for me at least, once the teacher has done the fun part of proving the formula, there’s nothing interesting left to do for me. And that’s how my algebra teachers taught… maybe that’s just the way those teachers were. But I was enthralled during the “prove the formula” part, but after that, the rest was like cleaning up after the party. Except I didn’t even get to go to the party. The party was a 1man show at the front of the room.
Conveniently, a lot of my Geometry class consisted of writing proofs, which allowed me to use my language skills rather than always screwing up the arithmetic, which I always found tedious.
I think there’s a divide in schools b/w English and math teachers. Your first email (and my first post) to you attest to this. I can’t tell you how many faculty mixers/inservice meetings, etc. I have been to where a math teacher, upon learning that I teach English, has launched into a “thing” about how they always hated writing. I had a math teacher say in a grad school class we were taking together that “It was easy” for me (all the writing required in that class) — but that she was a math teacher, and it was hard for her.
I feel for her. I really do. That’s why we teach, isn’t it? We want to help others see the beauty of that thing we love so much.
But I feel that same way about math. The thing about this is this: my pathetic understanding of all things mathematical aside, I have found in nearly every other area of knowledge that what we call the “disciplines” are more connected than we let on by having everything so separated. I wish we could be more interdisciplinary. Intuitively, I can see that there’s real truth and beauty in math. I just never knew how to get there (and, in high school, didn’t care.)
Thanks for your thoughtful answer. I appreciate your blog, and stand in awe of a math teacher who’s also able to write. You da man!
Dan,
I am Zach.
Did you hear that Mr. Meyer… He is Zach.
On a serious note. You are a pretty bomb teacher. Which in teenage lingo it means. “You are a very great teacher and we wouldn’t trade you for the world” well me might trade you for the world.. because that’s a pretty big deal. Still, you are a pretty bomb teacher. Lacey says hi.
P.s. You have a class full of people who know how to find you on your own blog site. Doesn’t that make you uncomfortable? That’s alittle creepy.
Love the blog name Dan!
How fast is Dan changing?
Or would
fnint(Dan,teaching,Start,end of career,every day) be a more appropriate title? :)
Looks like you are doing what you need to do to keep on going in this career. If we keep trying to improve in meeting children where they are at, we can’t but help to get better. One thing I’ve learned in the twenty years I’ve been in the teaching game is that any new initiative from the Feds or the State has about a 5 – 8 year life span and in 20 years initiatives go a full circle. Keep trying new things and keep the tools that work. To heck with NCLB. Yes, this too will pass.
One of the best quotes I came across last summer was to remember that we are teaching mathematics to children and not teaching children mathematics. A subtle but important difference.
Heather, If Mr. Meyers did not want you to read this, you would not have found his blog :)
Makes me hope you aren’t the only one to pull the meaning of the title.
Nope. He’s not alone on that one. I loved it the first time I saw it.
I was (and still am) a little puzzled by the title. Why not dDan/dt, or dDan/dTeaching, or for that matter dTeaching/dDan? Or the statement dDan/dt > 0 for all t? Does the “an” stand for some quantity in addition to being part of the name? Maybe it’s a Physics student bias that the derivative should look like a ratio of the infinitesimal quantities involved (we tend to think of these things as fractions, sort of (and of course real mathematicians don’t like that)).
H, my guess is that since Dan is apparently so doggone tall, his height (i.e., the vertical component, along the “y” axis) must keep changing w/r/t himself, so dy/dan must also be >0.
In a more theoretical way, I’d be more curious what the second derivative of any of the above is doing — particularly, is d(Rich’s teaching)/dt not only greater than zero, but is it accelerating, decelerating (there’s a nice engineering term for negative acceleration), or is it just flatline?
This could well be the part of the holiday break where I’m now getting too much free time to ruminate needlessly………
Rich, in that case it should be dy/dDan, no?
I also wondered about the second derivative… Which means too much free time? Or just time to stop procrastinating and getting down to the last bit of grading, I guess.
You people are wild. I admit that mathematical fidelity had to share a bench seat with aesthetics, so the consonance of “dee why dan” won out over the mathematically superior “dDan/dTeaching.”
Just like you, to protest poetic license for math teachers, too.
I didn’t know how exactly to send you these pictures with the stop sign for extra credit. sooooo. I am invading your blog yet again. This is Noah and I and a stop sign. Louis is taking the picture. As you can tell, he isn’t the brightest of the bunch. It all came out blurry.
As you can see, Property of santa cruz county.
Just incase the pictures didn’t show up, if the html is disabled on the page the link to those are
http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y260/iamount2nothing07/Picture004.jpg
http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y260/iamount2nothing07/Picture003.jpg
I ‘stumbled upon’ your blog and couldn’t contain my smile. I am junior in college studying computer science. My high school math teacher played a big role in encouraging me to pursue my interests in the field and helped to show me the mathematics side of computer science. Keep up the great work, and keep loving your job. When you love what you teach your students will notice.
I just wanted to thank you for putting time and effort into this blog – I’ve learned a lot from your lesson plans and posts about information design.
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