Student-Chosen Curriculum

I fought to introduce a new course to our curriculum this year – one that I taught years ago at a similar school in Los Angeles.  We called it Topics in Mathematics and “sold it” as a liberal arts math class for senior level non-math/science majors.  Basically, it was the only non-calculus track 4th year math course available.  I loved it so much that I brought it to my current school where it is currently in its inaugural year with questionable success.

In the three months of school so far, we have studied set theory, permutations and combinations, probability, voting and apportionment systems (to go along with the election), statistics, and financial math.  While the students probably enjoy these topics more than they would a traditional calculus-track course, they still don’t quite have any ownership in the areas we study.  In the era of proliferation of information, where students can buy echapters with ease, I wonder if it’s not a better idea to have the students do a bit of research at the beginning of the year on possible topics, and then to decide what they want to study.  This way, the curriculum is planned by them, and they get to choose the math they want to learn rather than what I think they need to learn.  

I don’t know whether this would be successful or not, but it’s an idea.  Definitely something to toss around at some informal teacher gatherings…


About sherioffy

I am a teacher. I am attempting to persuade today's youth that mathematics is both beautiful and satisfying. I'll keep you posted about the progress of my endeavors. So far, no one is buying it ;)
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One Response to Student-Chosen Curriculum

  1. Lani says:

    Reading your thoughts here made me excited– at the prospects of possibilities–
    Made me want to be back with students and thinking on how this might work–
    Wondering if a few actual real world scenarios that might require understanding of differing math concepts might be a way to determine student interest– which capture their attention, which do they want to help fix?
    Can’t wait to read your next post!

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