In a recent lesson with my IB Maths AA SL class, I set them this indices question to simplify as part of the starter activity.
They struggled. A lot.
Since teaching via Zoom, I don't usually go through these retrieval based activities in class straight away, rather opting to take in their work to check through all their work, which gives me a better idea of what they can and cannot do (in a classroom it is different as I can see their work live).
Very few of them got anywhere near close to solving the problem. In the following lesson, they asked me to go through it, so I did.
After showing them how to do it, I made a passing comment about enjoying doing this kind of problem, even finding it relaxing.
Even via Zoom, I could tell the reaction of my students. Some of them even turned their cameras on to show their disbelief. How could I enjoy solving this kind of problem? How was it even remotely relaxing?
This provoked a rather interesting discussion where we talked about the things we find enjoyable. My point was that when you can do something, but it requires a bit of work, that is normally what we find fun. That is, learning is fun if you know enough to be able to learn.
We discussed how some people enjoy music or sports, and the reason why is normally they are relatively good at it. And then they enjoy getting better and doing more difficult aspects of that course.
It is the same with Maths (and anything else really). If you are constantly failing at it, you will not enjoy it. But if you can do it, with a bit of effort, normally you will enjoy it.
They could understand this point. I don't think they had ever really thought about why they enjoy some things and not others, and it helped them see how I could enjoy solving a Maths problem. I told them that my job was to help them know enough that they could enjoy solving Maths problems.
Now I just need to live up to that!
I am a maths teacher looking to share good ideas for use in the classroom, with a current interest in integrating educational research into my practice.