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Monday, June 13, 2016

Math (Number) Schema: Data and Statistics

A while ago, a high level leader at Gillette told me that his well educated engineers had a difficult time estimating.

Then today as I listened to an academic doctor relay information about living systems to students, I recognized the need for our students to have strong, broad, and deep schema related to numerical knowledge.

Last night when I researched who owns gun companies and how much they made, I was also reminded of this need for number schema so that we understand issues well.

Too many of us can't quickly conceptualize the difference between making $50,000 and $50,000,000 a year or 300 BC and 1200 AD. We don't have ready access to numerical knowledge such as populations, earnings, dates, density statistics, and more.

Number schema is critical when it comes to understanding the issues that impact us most. A good schema related to data and statistics helps us to put our attention where it belongs rather than letting our emotions take over. While it needs to be a combination of rational thinking and emotional thinking to make good decisions--not one or the other, too often the lack of number schema leads to poor decisions and being cheated without knowing it.

So, how do we build students' number schema?

One way to do this is to use important numbers when teaching students math. To firmly implant the number schema that will lead them to better decision making, deeper mathematical knowledge, and successful future work, we need to choose important numbers and practice using those numbers in multiple ways over and over again.

Next year I want to embed important numbers into all student math learning. I want to use the numbers that will help children understand the world they live in with depth and interest. I will make a collection of those numbers this summer and utilize sites that have already sought to support this work.

I will think more on this, and I want to know what you are thinking about this as well. How do you build worthwhile data and statistics schema with your students. Why does this matter? I want to know more about this, and will work to develop this in the year ahead.

Related Links:
Number Schema
What is Schema (in relation to computers)