I’ve heard that math is a universal language. There are a lot of things that are the same about a math classroom, no matter where in the world you find it. There are numbers and symbols that form sentences. There will be some direct instruction, time for guided practice, and the inevitable independent practice (homework). Math classrooms generally have a few students who start with a look of confusion but that then show understanding by the end of the period. I get to teach Precalc this year, and my math classroom looks like many around the world.
But teaching math in the tropics does have a few differences than my prior experiences. The ceiling fan is on so high that students have to arrange their textbooks to keep their note pages pinned to the desk. My students have absolutely no context for a math problem about calculating the defrosting rate of a snowball stored in a freezer. And I picked up my calculator during the school break (I’m one of those people that use math in their everyday jobs) and found it home to an ant colony. The pictures do not do it justice; there were hundreds of ants streaming forth and plenty of larvae developing under the screen. The great part of teaching in the tropics though is also knowing that putting the calculator in the sun is the solution. The ants vacated and took their larvae with them. Unfortunately, they didn’t take the carcasses of their dead with them. I’ll just have to look beyond those when we’re analyzing functions in class.
See, teaching math in the the tropics is pretty much the same as teaching math the world-over.