Vol 19 No 2 (2010)

Mathematics Is Motivating

Published May 1, 2015


Mathematics is motivating; at least, it should be. I argue that mathematical activity is an inherently attractive enterprise for human beings because as intellectual organisms, we are naturally enticed by the intellectual stimulation of mathematizing, and, as social beings, we are drawn to the socializing aspects of mathematical activity. These two aspects make mathematics a motivating activity. Unfortunately, the subject that students often encounter in school mathematics classes does not resemble authentic mathematical activity. School mathematics is characterized by the memorization and regurgitation of rote procedures in isolation from peers. It comes as no surprise that many students have little motivation to continue mathematics study because it lacks intellectual and social appeal. I suggest several practical changes in school mathematics instruction that are drawn from the literature. These changes will lead to instruction that more readily engages students with the subject because they are rooted in the intellectually and socially appealing aspects of mathematics.