Rice University logo
Top blue bar image
For Math Teachers by Math Teachers

“Students First, Not Stuff” by Will Richardson


Recently, Carolyn White shared with us at RUSMP an excellent article titled “Students First, Not Stuff” by Will Richardson.  The article is available here.

Richardson writes about how this “moment of technological explosion raises a host of important questions for education leaders that speak directly to the way we think about the potentials of technology in school.”  If we think that technology is simply additive, the nature of our questions as math teachers will be: Should we get iPads or laptops? Casios or TIs? Which apps are best to teach fractions?  These are important questions, but Richardson posits that real issue is not about the best gadgets or latest technological fads.  It’s not about “layering expensive technology on top of the traditional curriculum.  Instead it’s about addressing the new needs of modern learners in entirely new ways.”

Richardson encourages readers to start long-term, broad conversations about “what teaching, learning, and being educated mean in light of the new technologies we now have available to us…to understand the implications fully, we need to start with the questions that focus on our students–and not just on the stuff.”

I encourage you to read his article and respond to the question:

“What does it mean to be MATH-literate in a world where knowledge, information, and facts are easily accessible in a student’s back pocket?”

You can watch Will Richardson’s TEDx talk at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ni75vIE4vdk.


8 Responses to ““Students First, Not Stuff” by Will Richardson”

  1. Mark A. Tinoco says:

    It is just as important to include art in math, just as important as using technology. I look forward to discovering my young Jasper Johns, Paul Klee and Wayne Thiebaud next school year.

  2. Michelle Saker-Martinez says:

    Mathematics is defined through many as being the abstract study and knowledge of quantity, structure, change, and space. This is an everlasting learning process. The tools that can be used are endless so the fact that technology (also endless)is now a part of that process is perfect. To be MATH-literate is to be able to think and know. Technology being available so easily helps our children only if they are tech savvy in diverse ways for what they need and know how to appropriately find and use the resources. Technology is no longer the future, it is the present, and as educators it our responsiblity to move our students educationally towards the future. If we do not know how to use technology or are not using it in our classrooms effectively we are pushing our students into the past. Math-literate means know how to use the technology for greater things (abstract study of quantity, structure, change, and space) and to be able to do it within their back pocket’s reach.

  3. Anne Papakonstantinou says:

    Today’s technology consists of devices that students use in their lives outside of school. To ensure that learning builds on students’ strengths in the use of these devices, classroom instruction should incorporate them. This creates a seamless transition between home and school. With that said, these are only tools. The goal of instruction should be for all students to learn important mathematics. No tool alone can do this for the student. They must be actively engaged in constructing their own knowledge in a socially mediated classroom facilitated by a knowledgable teacher.

  4. Sharon Grimm says:

    I think this article describes the classrooms we will see in the near future. One way to keep a child engaged is to have them learning what they are interested in and the way they like to learn. Before this can happen effectively all instructors whether in the classroom or on the web must be trained. It seems that districts roll out programs without proper training for the instructors. We must keep our children current with the world if we want them to be successful as the world changes constantly and we as educators must change with it to keep our children competitive.

  5. Alice Fisher says:

    Carolyn, how do you define and measure student achievement?

  6. Claudette Watson says:

    If Math-literacy is equated to higher student achievement as measured by test scores, then technology is truly just another delivery mechanism. Students learn how to answer the question to take test using web based learning tools like “khan academy.” Students now drive their own learning. It’s just not enough for students to answer the question, but now they can come up with new questions that they want answered based on the outcome of the first response. This is what I think is the new direction for inquiry based learning.

  7. Carolyn L. White says:

    It is all about student achievement.

  8. Susan Troutman says:

    It is essential that our twenty-first century students are able to apply the mathematics they are learning in the real-world. This will also mean that students use their problem solving skills to effectively use technology to expand their mathematical knowledge.