Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Math Must Be Warmed Up

For the past several years I have been arguing, pleading, advocating, promoting, and sometimes even begging for math to be warmer, more user friendly, relevant and just generally nicer. I want the study of math to be endowed with aesthetics, beauty, relationships, meaning, humor, and joy. I want it to have all the positive attributes that other elementary school subjects have, the social studies field trips, the science inquiry activities, the reading instruction recreational fictional reading, the language arts poetry and creative writing, the creativity of art and music and the sheer accomplishment of PE.

I want young children to develop their mathematical thinking and their mathematical memory skills through the use of pattern, relationships, reasoning and puzzlement. I want them to study fractals and all kinds of wonderful geometric relationships that can all be used to enhance the remembering of math facts and the more mundane aspects of math that have to be learned. I want arithmetic to be made obsolete, or at least to be made relevant to the problems solving skills it is designed to accompany.

I've just read a wonderful article in the Harvard Education Letter that speaks far more eloquently than can I to what I am trying to say and do. Changing the Face of Math is a wonderful plea to make math less "cold-blooded", to give students the warm fuzzies when they learn it. It is a plea to make math personally-identifiable-with in the same way that students identify with their favorite reading genre and their creative writing interests.  Everyone who teaches math in any way whatsoever should read this article and be resolved to act upon what they discover.

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