By Lina Noviandari
Many people probably love Mathematics, but most of people I’ve ever met said that they have no interest in this subject. Most of them have the same reasons, they said that Mathematics is difficult and confusing, that it is hard to remember its
Dutch mathematician: Hans Freudenthal
formulas, that it is a boring subject or that it is an-only-theory subject with no practices in life. They said that they learnt logarithm, algebra and etc., but thenwhat it is for. Those people see mathematics as merely concept, for them mathematics is not real. Responding to that issue, I assume that their teachers did not apply RME in their Mathematics class. The question comes up, what is RME?
It is Dutch, who first invented Realistic Mathematics Education (RME) approach to teach mathematics. Through its man’s thought, Hans Freudenthal, who has a concept ‘mathematics as human activity’, RME finally introduced in 1971. According to Freudenthal, mathematics must be connected to real life, it must be close to students’ surrounding and environment. Instead of seeing mathematics as merely concept, Freudenthal proposed an idea of mathematics as part of human activities. Since it is a human activity, therefore students are expected to ‘act’ the mathematics out, not merely ‘think’ mathematics as a concept.
Practically, the RME approach can be easily applied in the classroom. For example, to introduce the ‘multiplication by 2’, teachers can ask students, “If a bike has two wheels, then how many wheels do two bikes have?” Teachers can continue ask for three bikes, four bikes and so forth while drawing the bikes on the blackboard. In this case, students can visualize the concept of it. Moreover, the model which is bike, is something familiar for the students. By using RME, students can see that mathematics is important in their life. They can visualize mathematics as something real instead of merely a concept.
Freudenthal’s theory of RME has been applied by many countries all over the world, such as UK, USA, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Portugal, Malaysia and even Indonesia, just to mention few. Somehow, not all of teachers use this approach. Many teachers still use the traditional approach by merely explaining the concept and giving the formulas. As a result, students will only memorize the formulas without understand it. Therefore, it is not a wonder if they say that mathematics is a boring subject or that it is an-only-theory subject with no practices in life.
Looking back at history of the reform of mathematics education in Dutch, RME was born as a reaction to American ‘New Math’ which used the traditional ‘mechanistic mathematic approach’. Since Dutch thought that this approach is tend to teach merely the concept of mathematics with fixed solving procedures, therefore Dutch creatively invented a new approach to make mathematics more realistic, and RME came as an answer.
Now, when we talk about Dutch, it is not only about its technology or its entrepreneurship or its environment-friendly, in fact Dutch also put a concern on a better education. And RME is one of Dutch’s real contribution on it.