From the year 2004, a group of more than 30 teachers, enthusiasts of Mathematics, have been carrying out the activity "Workshop of Mathematical Talent" (“Taller de Talento Matemático”, TTM , in Spanish). We celebrate meetings every two Fridays from 18:00 to 19:30. Students aged 13 to 18 meet other fans of Mathematics of the same age. Our aim is that they enjoy aspects and approachesthat habitually cannot be seen (for lack of time) in the classrooms of their centres: fascinating perspectives that make them meditate and bring to the surface the best of their good minds. Unlike other projects of this type, we do not do any type of previous selection in the election of the attendees. We send informative letters summoning for ALL the students interested in Mathematics, as well asfor the voluntary teachers that want to take part as ALTRUISTIC mentors in any of the meetings. All the meetings can be found in http://www.unizar.es/ttm.
We are deeply satisfied with the positive outcome of this activity: that of encouraging the enjoyment in the resolution of Mathematical problems. We think that this is definitively a way of preparing our teenagers to solve with reason and logicother problems that they will have to face all along. We are sure to be EDUCATING by means of the Mathematics.
Statement of the problem that spurred the innovation
Students aged 13 to 18 generally do not enjoy mathematics. They see this subject as a hard mountain they have to climb if they want to get their degrees in order to be accepted in a university or starting a ruled professionaltraining. Maths are normally in our education system just a mere collection of formulae, more or less understood, that must be used adequately in every case.
The increase of the mixed-abilities students in the classrooms, and the necessity to take care of it, has been misinterpreted almost always as a “reduction of levels” so that all the students can acquire the basic skills. For that reason,students with interests and aptitudes, are relegated and put under routine tasks that discourage them little by little. Many times they pass unnoticed or are taken as “bad students”.
If mathematical talent is not specifically educated and stimulated, by means of special programs, only those students who have a stimulating atmosphere within the family are the ones that end up developing it.Evaluations of the Mathematical level of European students show Spain is below the middle level.
Students fond of Maths in Aragon end with the 2nd ESO Mathematics Olympiad and they do not have any other place where they can develop their mathematical skills in order to participate in other Maths competitions. There is an enormous gap.
Young students prefer learning things by making discoveries on theirown rather than studying the given units in their books. They are impressed by teachers who know their subject, are authentically interested in it and transmit this enthusiasm to the students. They enjoy special experiences in which they can participate and give them the opportunity to investigate on subjects that attract to them and to develop personal techniques to solve problems.Mathematically skilled teenagers are generally considered as weirdo among their schoolmates. They need to find other people with the same age and the same hobby. They need their “live forum” where they can express without complexes their ability.
There are plenty of activities for after classroom time: sports, music, painting, dancing… But what can a boy or a girl who likes Mathematics do?
All these factsjustify the beginning of experiences that allow that these talents do not fail and render the fruits that our society needs and contribute to the scientific and technological cultural development. We must not think that caring these people with special talent is elitist and segregator. Usually students who have a privileged cultural situation in their family are those who will end up developing a...