Here on Balaton Lake, Hungary

Well I arrived at the conference with no luggage. What do I need clothes for anyway. I learned how to use the rail system in the middle of the night but I was assisted by what felt like the entire train speaking in Hungarian but being enormously helpful. I could not speak any Hungarian and my translator app was useless. A very nice young man Mate gave me a ride from one train station to a bus stop, and the language barrier began again.

Mate shared his facebook page with me and I made it to Hotel Annabella by 10 pm.

So…mathematically speaking, I spoke to Mate about my intention to observe math classrooms. He immediately said “i was not very good in maths in school.” This is reinforcement for my project. Is the amount of struggle in maths associated with thinking one is not good at it? Maybe.

On the 6 hour missed connection at Heathrow airport I had a chance to read an article on Emotion and disaffection with school mathematics, Lewis, 2013. Mate’s struggle with Maths ( this is how it is referred to) has been documented. Lewis has a book out on the topic, but I did not have room in my luggage. The article documented voices like Mate. For example one student wondered why teachers spent more time with students who did not struggle instead of helping struggling students. We might have some sort of cultural aversion to struggle. Lewis, 2013, found that when students struggle, then the teacher wants to spend time with those students who do not struggle. If you get it, the teacher wants to reinforce the students who get it, but those who are disaffected like Mate and my friend Colette have learned to run and hide and not enjoy the struggle because they may have felt pressure from a teacher. I am not blaming teachers, I am just trying to investigate why those who think they may not like maths or can’t do maths might be because they have been negatively reinforced by teacher aversions to their struggles.

6 thoughts on “Here on Balaton Lake, Hungary

  1. Glad you are there! Since you are a seasoned traveler, you knew how to deal with inevitable travel surprises like missed connection and your problem solving got you to your final destination–Love that Mate is now part of your story.

  2. Sounds like the beginning of a great adventure! Glad you have found helpful souls along the way so far. I can totally see how teachers attend more to students who “get it” vs those who struggle. Teachers get more positive reinforcement from the students who readily understand what they are teaching. It is challenging to support those who don’t grasp a concept, but the rewards are great when they do! I remember struggling mightily in geometry, then I was in a terrible accident, was hospitalized for many months and had to be tutored at home in geometry during the summer in order to take the regents and move on with my class. Even though it was the same math teacher, he had to help me through my struggles and he did! I ended up loving geometry and scored a 98 on the regents. Can wait to hear about your visits to math classes there to see how teachers supports students like your driver!

  3. Marcia, after failing mathematics at school and repeating a year, I never let go of the struggle. For decades I tried to better understand K-8 mathematics and now, without any formal education in math beyond the least I could get away with at school, I’m sharing ideas with math professors in Hungary. Never give up!

    1. Your story is compelling. Thank you for sharing your story. I also have struggled in mathematics, but the struggle draws me in. I can only credit Ms. Weissbard my 10 th grade geometry teacher, for helping me realize that struggle does not mean I can’t learn. I will take a look at your materials.

  4. As my sister was saying at breakfast at Lake Balafon, we are all told that Math is so hard/difficult almost from the time we enter school. Why do adults do that to children?

    1. I think we don’t have any experiences that are different than those very difficult experiences, so we perpetuate the pain. In a session today that I didn’t quite understand completely, Manuella said “we should not be a source of suffering”, but to hide we perpetuate that suffering. I am going to admit that I struggled with math but then I enjoyed the struggle when I achieved some successes. I wish I had been encouraged to struggle more so that I would’ve had more successes. I know we can do things differently.

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