Although Dan Meyer is taking a break from teaching high school math to study for an education doctorate at Stanford University, his passion for teaching shines bright. Meyer's proposal for a new way to teach math, presented as part of TEDxNYED, has had nearly 100,000 views on YouTube and has been reposted on many education sites. TEDxNYED brought together educators, innovators and idealists earlier this year to share their vision of education. His specific interests include building ideal learning experiences for students through curriculum design and answering questions about teacher education such as how do they learn and how to best teach them to teach.
T&L contributing editor Matt Bolch spoke with Dan Meyer about his views on teaching and learning.
How has your presentation at TEDxNYED changed your life?
That talk put me in contact with a lot of interesting, smart people whose ideas have done an immeasurable amount to improve my own. My blog readership also doubled, which was fun in a superficial keeping-score kind of way, but more readers has also meant that I have more people willing to field test my curriculum and instruction designs, which, again, have improved them in ways I can't even measure.
How can your presentation change how today's youth are taught math?
The proponents of "hard" and "soft" math are waging an intense and tedious war right now. Extremists on one side advocate "soft" problem-solving skills. Extremists on the other side advocate "hard" procedural fluency. I'm doing my best to inject problem-solving skills into the procedures.
What is the focus of your studies at Stanford?
I'm really curious how math teachers develop themselves throughout their careers. I'd love to take some fraction of the most effective face-to-face professional development and put it online in some form that anyone could experience, anywhere, at any time. I'd be content if that were the outcome of my studies.