Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What's Math Got To Do With It?

I don't smoke and I'm not overweight so for my New Year's resolution I have decided to read more books about math. Not the kind that one meets in school such as textbooks or workbooks but the type written by kindred souls who see the joy and beauty of math in the real world.

The first one I'm going to read is Why Do Buses Come in Threes? by Eastaway, Wyndam and Rice. It's been on my bookshelf for a year and I remember first seeing the title with a sense of disbelief. Growing up in England I took public transport buses everywhere before I had a car. I spent the daily  45 minute journey to and from high school on the top deck of a green Bristol double decker. You wouldn't believe the times you'd wait for ages for a bus and 2 or 3 would all come together. 

The second book I want to read is What's Math Got To Do With It? by Jo Boaler. I want to read this book because I've been following the career of the author ever since I read a definitive piece of research she conducted many years ago that demonstrated how much better it was for children to learn mathematics conceptually with understanding than it was to learn it by rote memorization. In her study she demonstrated how children, at the end of elementary school, might do better on traditional recall tests when taught to learn math by rote memorization, but later, in high school, children who had been taught conceptually were light years ahead of the "rote memorizers".

The third book on my list, to be read by Easter, is The Number Sense by Stanislas Dehaene. I've read parts of this book but not from cover to cover. Dehaene was the one who introduced us to the idea of numeracy and the idea of subitizing. This is where you can recognize how many things are in a group by not actually counting them. Believe it or not, crows can do this when checking the eggs in their nests!

1 comment:

  1. Those are great choices. I gave a copy of "The Number Sense" to my private tutor. He was like you, who loved math even outside the classroom.