What's Your M.K.T., and Does It Matter?
M.K.T. stands for Mathematical Knowledge for Teaching - and could be the key to more effective math teaching. M.K.T. is not a new concept, but was featured at length in this weekend's beefy New York Times piece, "Building a Better Teacher", by Elizabeth Green.
M.K.T. is the brainchild of Deborah Loewenberg Ball, one of the nation's foremost experts in teaching education. The article describes M.K.T. neatly:
"Mathematicians need to understand a problem only for themselves; math teachers need both to know the math and to know how 30 different minds might understand (or misunderstand) it... This (is) neither pure content knowledge nor what educators call pedagogical knowledge... It (is) a different animal altogether."
This means that an algebra teacher, for example, needs instantaneous access (think ACME delivery) to a deep understanding of the many, many ways their students might go wrong - enough to get there with them, AND bring them back.
Ball has done research showing a correlation between a teacher M.K.T. and student performance that outshines any other. But as you'll see if you read the full article, figuring out how to convey M.K.T. to student teachers has proven elusive.
There's tons of food for thought in this comprehensive article, and I've touched on only one aspect. Be warned: it may have you jumping up and down in excitement, or rage, or both.
Photo credit: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~dball/