Yup, that is NOT how to teach math

This TEDx talk about maths teaching is pretty bad


I’ve been combing through this educator’s site–Greg Ashman. I found him through his critique of Dan Meyer’s well-known TEDx talk. He has some pretty sharp criticisms of Meyer and others, and the “inquiry” school of instruction generally. I can’t say I find his arguments convincing–he’s wayyy on the far opposite pole from the inquiry crowd–but I’ve learned a lot from reading him and reading the papers he cites.

Then there’s this other TEDx talk. It’s horrible from a math education standpoint. The speaker goes on and on about wonder and discovery and inquiry, but as his centerpiece uses a horrendous, contrived problem that serves only to get students to guess the hidden pattern that was placed by the teacher. “Authentic” problems these are not.

The trouble with creating teaching

I’m finding myself struggling to relate to certain education writers that rely heavily on cognitive or learning research.

I have two such writers in mind recently, whose material I’ve been reading with great interest but who I think are misinterpreting something important about learning and education.

First: Greg Wilson, whom I know through his work in computer programming education. He works mostly with adults in the academic & scientific communities. I’ve read lots of his thoughts on how to teach programming. Beyond that, he’s a fascinating speaker.

Second: Greg Ashman, a veteran UK high school math teacher. His special focus, to boil down a range of very detailed and interesting posts from his blog, is


Both Greg Wilson & Greg Ashman occasionally lean too much on scientifically-established principles of learning to engineer methods of teaching.

I think there’s a gap between teaching (what a teacher, book, or other material presents to a student) and learning (how the student interprets and learns inside their mind).

I’m trying to put my finger on it.

Wilson example: from his Teaching Tech Together, (maybe something about structuring a problem so it aligns with 5 ±2 ?

Ashman example: from his blog. Four Ways Cognitive Load Theory has changed his teaching.