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Math Department Philosophy

Santa Ana College Math Department Philosophy

In this math department, we believe in empowering students. Negative past experiences, learning disabilities, and current life stressors all affect a student’s ability to gain access to the linear, analytic functions of the brain required to do math.
It is now widely known that Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison appeared dull and slow as students. Winston Churchill flunked English. Leonardo da Vinci, Ludwig von Beethoven, Louis Pasteur, and Hans Christian Andersen had learning  disabilities. As we look out over our math students or grade their exams, we cannot know the depths of their abilities. All we know is what they can currently access.
Therefore, it is in their best interests that we provide an atmosphere that is safe and positive so that they can begin to open their minds to math. This is not to say that we “lower our standards” or that we become floor mats and “water down our courses.”
It is to say that we mirror positiveness and possibilities to them. We provide them with support. We give them consistent feedback on the bits of progress that they make so that they continue to put one foot ahead of the other working their way up the math mountain.
We may be the first math teacher they ever had who believed that they could do math or the first to present it in enough different learning modes so that they could finally grasp it. We may be the first math teacher who ever gave them permission to make mistakes and to take the risks that allow them to learn.
·      When we as math teachers are willing to examine the shadowy parts of our academic past and think about the courses we enjoyed the least,
·      When we are willing to recognize that our math abilities gave us a certain intellectual status so that we had permission to not do so well in perhaps P.E. or English comp,
·      When we are willing to admit our discipline is no better and no worse than any other academic discipline but that it currently enjoys a reputation as being the best indicator of intelligence,
then we can truly realize the incredible courage it takes for students whose skills lie elsewhere to enter our math classrooms.
Therefore it is our belief in this math department that to be truly effective with our students, we need to recognize the possibilities that are keeping our students from learning. We need to encourage, encourage, and encourage. We need to facilitate our students’ use of the extra supports that we have on our campuses for tutoring, coping with math anxiety, personal counseling, and diagnosing and coping with learning disabilities. It is also helpful if we have read materials on math anxiety so that we do not perpetuate some of the negative ideas that fill students’ heads and cause static preventing clear thinking.
Being a math teacher
·      who clearly verbalizes expectations and ground rules—writing them out in our course outlines,
·      who gives class presentations that are well thought out and organized,
·      who calls students by name and actively engages them positively in the learning experience,
·      who varies classroom activities to accommodate diverse learning modes and attention spans, and
·      who is knowledgeable about support services and encourages students to use them,
can go a long way toward reducing math anxiety and releasing student energy to be used on math.
We have a challenging and rewarding job to do. Isn’t it wonderful

Santa Ana College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges, 10 Commercial Blvd., Suite 204, Novato, CA 94949, (415) 506-0234, an institutional accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education. Additional information about accreditation, including the filing of complaints against member institutions, can be found at: