Prato said he understands the stress many feel about learning math. He’s had an opportunity to work with students at high school and college levels, so he has engaged with a wide variety of students over the years, often presenting math in ways that are more practical and more fun.
Math is “… more creative than people realize,” Prato said. One of his favorite comparisons is to chess, a game with a clear objective, and a set of rules guiding the action. Math, Prato explained, also has an objective and a set of rules that define the possible actions for solving a problem. Once students consider a math problem as a miniature chess game, the challenge becomes more fun and less stressful for the students.
Prato also focuses on how math skills can solve everyday problems because he wants those problem-solving skills to be useful and valuable for students. He said he also offers many opportunities to practice skills, both in group and team settings in class, and in individual study.
He’s also interested, he said, in encouraging students to think beyond the solution because it is sometimes enlightening to challenge the assumptions (i.e. math’s rules of the game). When students ask “why do we do it this way?” they learn that mathematical study is based on a rich history and that many of its developments have resulted from students asking disruptive questions. “What assumptions can we bend; what can we break?” he said. When prompted to consider those types of questions, Prato has found that students can improve and refine their problem-solving skills.
In addition to his master’s degree in math, Prato also holds a Ph.D. in public affairs, and he explained that the two disciplines fit smoothly, despite the seemingly wide gulf between them, because of his interests in statistical analysis.
Prato will be teaching in-person math and math support classes this fall, including College Math and College Algebra. His office is located in the Room 202 faculty suite at Eastern, and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eastern, based in Moorefield, serves six rural counties in West Virginia’s Potomac Highlands with academic programs and short-term workforce trainings. Eastern is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.