As we go about our daily work of teaching mathematics, we always need to remind ourselves that mathematics is more than just a collection of knowledge or a set of skills that we learn in isolation from our daily lives. Mathematics must have value as an instrument or a tool which helps us to solve a variety of problems we might encounter in our home, in the workplace and in our leisure activities. When we help our students to see the value of mathematics in their lives, then their commitment to it is much stronger.
As we discussed the theme for this issue of "Ideas and Resources" at the executive level, two thoughts immediately came to mind. The first was how closely the theme would parallel the topic of the keynote address to be given at "Focus '98" in October. The keynote speaker, Dr. Z. Usiskin from Chicago, will undoubtedly shed much light on the importance of making the study of mathematics practical and useful in our daily lives as he explores the topic, "When Will We Ever Use This Stuff". The second thought was of an acquaintance who designs and builds hopper bottom grain bins. Cal Strinholm, the owner of a small, farm-based operation called "Holmspun Hoppers" has a keen and thorough knowledge of the practical side of mathematics even though he has no formal training in mathematics. Cal likes to call his self-discovered shortcuts and unusual ways of ciphering "farmer math". He is an interesting example of someone who uses mathematics often and in a very practical manner.
We wish to thank two contributors who have taken time to submit middle level articles for this issue of "Ideas and Resources". Erv Henderson, a teacher at Yorkdale Central School, shares with us information on a workplace project he does with his middle level students. Andrew Hennings, a grade 9 student from Star City spent a day on the job at "Holmspun Hoppers" north west of Melfort. Andrew's report clearly shows the wide range of mathematical skills and knowledge required at this worksite.
We invite teachers throughout the province to share with us your ideas and projects. If you and your students are involved in an interesting mathematical endeavor, please let us know. We'd love to publish your ideas and the work your students are doing.
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