Generalizing vs. Particularizing in Math
Share your thoughts on whether you agree or disagree with Marion Small’s view of success criteria and “generalizing vs particularizing” in math.
Marion Small makes a very interesting point when she discusses generalizing vs. particularizing in her video about success criteria. Marion spoke about how some educators identify the success of their students when they use the mathematic terminology that the researchers and textbooks provide. In these cases, there is a higher emphasis on ‘particularizing’, in that the students must learn to remember the name of a strategy rather than being able to explain how a strategy was used. ‘Generalizing’ involves having the students explain what method they used and how it was effective, without hyper-focusing on terminology.
I agree with Marion Small’s view of generalizing and particularizing in math, especially as it relates to success criteria. In my own practicum placements, I facilitated math number talks and explored many strategies to solve the same equation. Personally, I found it difficult to remember the various names given to each of the strategies used (i.e., double plus one, decomposing numbers, friendly numbers, etc.). I came to the realization that if it was difficult for me to remember the terminology, it was probably difficult for my students. Additionally, I had to consider what my true success criteria were for my students during the number talks: Was it to use the proper name of the strategy used, or to utilize multiple strategies and be able to explain what they did? For my group of students, the function was more important than the lingo, and I believe my students learned more from sharing strategies with their peers than from putting names to strategies. This does not dismiss the importance of the language used in math classes, but it shifts the focus from particularizing to generalizing.