Aug 28, 2009

more on math

Speaking of math, I just walked in from the Mak-Tatos' preschool. The curriculum orientation's theme this time centered on sensorial life and math. For this evening, the parents were the students , sitting next to the teachers, manipulating the materials. I had a swell time arranging the rods, building the blocks, playing with beads. All these "toys" apparently preparing them for a lifetime with numbers. An introduction, if you will, to mathematical concepts without them even realizing it. Or scaring them away.

this is Mak's favorite, I hear

This one is Tato's

And this one was mine

Last summer, Cousin MomPreneur asked me to teach entrepreneurship to little ones. The kids were pretty happy, I think, until the groans I got the day I announced it was "numbers day". "I hate, hate math," said the seven year old girl. I barely heard a peep from her the first few days but this time her message was loud and clear. The others nodded in agreement. And just in case there might be any misunderstanding there was another "I super hate math and numbers and all." Yes. Roger. Got it.

I was one of the lucky ones. My dad is a certified math genius, who was smart enough to skip two grades in school and even smarter to inform me early on to throw out the multiplication table and flash cards. I was not to memorize a thing. I was to understand it. He patiently explained the hows. And answered all my whys. And didn't care if I could multiply three digits in record time. Or if i could recite the multiplication table seamlessly. And I truly believe schools should do the same.

Richard Feynman, Nobel Prize Winning Physicist spells out what real learning is:

"You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you're finished, you'll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird... So let's look at the bird and see what it's doing -- that's what counts. I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something."

Nona, save an extra seat in that seminar for me.


Cely said...

I had a very disagreeable maths teacher when I was at school. She never took the time to explain and encourage. So I hated them (and her too, by the way, ha!) but in High School, I -finally- had a great maths teacher! He knew I was bad at maths and would need extra help to get by, and he helped me every step of the way. Thanks to him I choose a career where I could use maths and now I often do it.

Actually, I really think that more a teacher knows about his/her subject, the more likely it is that (s)he will teach it well. The subjects are more interesting if the teacher do something special to make them interesting.

This seminar looks extremely interesting; I can't wait to read what you both thought about!

Nona said...

Booked Nana!

Cely, these days at least there are better ways to teach math... and they do not involve scaring hapless children : )

Barni said...

Alec always chose Math materials when he was there. They really have good materials.

Nana said...

Cely, see what bad teachers can do? More importantly, see what GOOD teachers can do?

Barns, now that its all coming back to me, I loved the math materials then too!