Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Math TED talks

Tracy Watterson reminded me today of the wonderful Arthur Benjamin TED talk about the magic of Fibonacci numbers.So I did a quick search to find all the TED talks about math. and started watching them (one of the joys of being on sabbatical). So far I've watched The Math and Magic of Origami which shows how Origamists eventually turned to math to develop rules and new origami projects. This was quite amazing in terms of the mathematical laws and rules that govern origami. I've also watched the Benjamin one of the Fibonacci numbers which really brings them to life beyond their usual natural occurrence.

I usually find myself agreeing with the speakers especially those like Dan Meyers who insists that we really do need to do something to make math more captivating for students of all ages. But, occasionally I do find disagreement with the ideas being presented. One such TED talk is the one given by Conrad Wolfram entitled Teaching Kids real Math with Computers. His fundamental idea is that we have to "stop teaching calculating and start teaching math". His fundamental error is that he defines "basics" of maths as calculating using paper. This is an error that is so frequently made by people who would have us teach the way we taught fifty years ago. He completely ignores the idea of numeracy and the fundamental understanding of place value and base ten which comprise the real "basics".

After you watch the Wolfram TEDtalk read this article by Karen Fuson about standard algorithms in the CCMS. She makes a good case for "calculating". The real question then becomes:  "What is the standard algorithm?" especially if you are and English Language Learner.

If you have a favorite math TED write about it on this blog.

PS The Ken Robinson TED talks on Creativity in Education are also really good.

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