A productive outlook for mathematics learning in a classroom situation is characterized by the virtuous ethic of accommodation in the conventional inter-and intra-social student interactions. It is required of students to manage mathematics instructional materials effectively, be actively involved in the learning process, and uphold a humane supportive attitude in advancing the welfare of the entire student body. This paper explores the major affective domains to math instructional environment as weighed against such educational perspectives as the cognitive, the symbolic interaction, and the behaviorism theory.
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The suitability of the classroom environment under which mathematics instruction is carried out can be viewed holistically as being dependent on a variety of distinct dimensions which are of primary importance in the acquisition of mathematical know-how. In this multi-faceted outlook, the learner’s inherent mathematical endowments, the utility value of the acquired mathematical knowledge in the overall human setting, and the learner’s intrinsic dispositions are considered to be the key pillars upon which a conducive mathematical classroom environment can be tapped.
The Suitable Mathematics Classroom Environment
It is indisputable that young ones are born with an inherent mathematical endowment- rendering every child autonomous in the acquisition and invention of mathematical know-how. Although this brain-based learning theory has often gone unnoticed in the math instruction platform, it is indeed the underlying foundation that bequeaths every child with a certain measure of mathematical inclination and hence dictates one’s mathematical proficiency in later years. A stunning question arises ‘what does one’s mathematical endowment have to do with the learning environment?’, well, all modes of learning are depended not only on the prevailing instructional environment but also on the learner’s intrinsic and naturally acquired endowments, rather than essentially being a programmed acquisition of mathematical know-how as evident in the behaviorist approach, it should be appreciated that one’s cognitive endowments are primary in math acquisition.
This brain-based Learning theory postulates that children are born with the Universal Mathematics tools readily programmed into their cognitive domain and thus are capable of acquiring, enriching, and inventing mathematical concepts through either conscious or unconscious means (Jim, 2008, p.1). These natural parameters are thus central to the spontaneous nature in which learning and instruction should be undertaken and also authenticates the innate possession of the mathematical skill thus acquired. Mathematics instruction environment need therefore be harnessed and maintained within this pedagogical perspective of having a unified focus on developing and enriching the learner’s innate mathematical capacities by considering the uniqueness of each brain, avoiding threats, and introducing enhanced math challenges.
With the long-term objective of empowering learners with the requisite mathematical stamina for meeting the diverse challenges of twenty-first-century education, math instructors need to modify classroom settings to enhance the proficiency of mathematics as a tool for addressing the current human complexities. Key among the strategies is the implementation of the socio-mathematical pedagogy in the classroom situation. A socio-mathematical norm is that which is considered mathematically logical, accurate, and true; such normative conceptions as objects which are mathematically elegant, mathematically complex, and mathematically simple are all enshrined under the socio-mathematical norm bracket (Yackel, 2000, p. 1). Thus the educator needs to harness the prevailing socio-interactive space, to create, nurture and develop a mutual rapport with the students and among the students. In this socio- mathematical setting, a conducive, vibrant, and friendly environment prevails, encouraging learner participation in the learning process, hence facilitating the discovery of mathematical inferences and meanings through mutual interactions.
In the same breath, the functional value of the acquired mathematical knowhow cannot be underestimated, but rather, it needs to be extended and perfected by exposing the learners to real-life situations; keeping the learner abreast with the current mathematical demands and expectations in the world around him/her, through field studies, class excursions etcetera. This exposes the learners to a broad spectrum of mathematical specialties in the real world of saying business, politics, art etcetera refining their focus and appreciation of the usefulness of mathematics. Ensuring a sustainable and conducive math learning environment where social dynamics thrive, thus triggering mathematical argumentations based on an individual learner’s intellectual autonomy and ultimately results in mathematical empowerment (Opolot-Okulut, 2010, p. 1).
Although the basic tenet of the behaviorist perspective asserts that learning is nothing more than the acquisition of new behavior (Jim, 2008, p.1), it is indisputable that even such learning is largely dependent on one’s intrinsic motivations, tastes, preferences, and inclinations. Therefore, in as much as the educator may please to condition a certain math behavioral pattern in a learner behavioral standing through the employment of various types of reinforcements- feedback, reward, and punishment – the learner’s innate dispositions should always be kept in focus, to ensure a fair learning process in which the learner’s autonomy would be upheld in doing that which he/she is good at; which is the true mark of a conducive learning environment. This underscores the necessity of engaging the students actively in the learning process, thus, the teacher should tailor his/her instructional strategies in embracing both hands-on and minds-on problem-solving approaches (Taplin, 2011, p. 1).
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Keeping the learner’s innate dispositions in proper perspective during the teaching process would always ensure a conducive and accommodating math class environment which ultimately; inspires and motivates the learner, sustains proactive learner attention, and enhances the learner’s memory in information retention. Student progress in the learning/instruction process should be assessed using a tentatively structured plan, which would incorporate both the standardized grading system and the spontaneous continuous assessment in the course of instruction (Tall, and Watson, 2000, p. 1).
From the preceding exposition, it is evident that educators can create a conducive math learning environment not only by considering the basic educational pedagogies but also taking into account the learner’s innate endowments, personal dispositions, and the utility value of math knowhow to the learner and the world at large– when drawing the mathematics curriculum, schemes of work, lesson plans and in the actual instruction process. For instance, in this learner-centered approach, the teacher should exhibit personal attributes which qualify him/her to be sociable, build on the learner’s prior knowledge and experiences when teaching, treat mistakes as natural parts of the learning process, encourage students to ask questions without embarrassment and encourage students to work collaboratively and help one another.
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Opolot-Okulut, C. (2010). Classroom learning environment and motivation towards mathematics among secondary school students. Web.
Tall, D. and Watson, F.R. (2000). Computing languages for the mathematics classroom.
Taplin, M. (2011). Creating A Safe, Supportive Math Classroom. Web.
Yackel, E. (2000). Creating a Mathematics Classroom Environment that Foster The Development of Mathematical Argumentation. Web.