Math is dead… long live Math

I’m going back to teaching this year, and everything will be different.  I’ll going from West Coast to East Coast (where I was born).  I’ll be spending most of the year apart from my wife (while she finishes research abroad).  And most relevant to this blog – I’ll only be teaching Physics and no Math.

You would think that I would be ecstatic to be rid of studying shovels.  Teaching AP Physics, we’ll be using and abusing math to do something wonderful.  I get to replace the pressure of state standardized tests of dubious validity with an AP exam.  I understand the AP exams.  I took them, I’ve studied them, and I feel that the breadth of topics in AP Physics is reasonable for a year of instruction.

And yet, I’ve grown to deeply appreciate math, and especially math instruction.  I’m still not the kind of person that has a blast dividing polynomials or finding eigenvalues.  But I have learned SO MUCH about math instruction.  Between all of the stuff from math blogs, math people on twitter and most importantly getting direct coaching in the classroom, there is a lot of depth to good math instruction.

So will I find the same thing in Physics now that I’m looking for it?  I dunno.  I’m already well familiar with Physics by Inquiry (Lillian McDermot) and I need a little more exposure to Modeling Physics.  But right now my google reader has only 4 physics teachers, compared to 35 math blogs.  As I move both feet into the physics world, I can’t help but feel the lack.


UPDATE:  Turns out I’m not teaching AP Physics after all, just general and honors physics.  It’s still amazing to not be split between subjects, but I won’t have the solid goals of the AP exams.


3 thoughts on “Math is dead… long live Math

  1. If you’re looking for AP teachers, I’d suggest checking out Greg Jacobs (link isn’t working at the moment), who teaches AP-B and writes extensively about it, and Josh Gates, who teaches AP-C mechanics. I’ve also got a blogroll with a number of physics teachers, and will be adding more soon.

    Finally, you should totally join the Global Physics Department, which meets virtually every Wednesday at 9:30PM EST and features presentations from college professors and high school teachers around the world talking about the latest physics education research, teaching strategies, new technology tools and so much more. All of our meetings are recorded, and you can any of them from our archive of 70+ meetings. For just one example check out this talk by Peter Bohacek, a physics teacher in Minnesota about the incredible direct measurement videos he’s created.

    • Thanks! I was planning on joining in on the Global Physics Department tomorrow. That will get easier once I move to the proper time zone.

  2. If you aren’t already… read <a href=" Frank (college physics prof using inquiry with future elementary school teachers) and Jason Buell (middle school physics).

    Welcome to the club — looking forward to reading more.

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