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More on Math Education

April 29, 2008

I found this forum due to the fact that someone there linked to my last blog post. (The link is on page 10 of the discussion if you want to check out the context.) There’s a great discussion there about some non-orthodox math education options (mainly, I believe, intended for homeschoolers or parents of gifted kids wanting to supplement at home).

The thread was started by a parent who had just heard a presentation by a local mathematician who advocated that kids shouldn’t learn math using a textbook at all — it should all emerge naturally from various scientific/engineering explorations. Although I don’t particularly agree with that idea (not least because “natural” situations tend to involve ugly numbers, which make hand computation impractical, and argue for the use of calculators — I’d be in favor of calculator use in such cases, but not if it’s the only exposure to computation the student is going to get!), the thread contains a lot of good ideas about math education, many relevant to both gifted and non-gifted students, and many as relevant to classroom instruction as to homeschoolers.

On page 11 of this discussion, there is a link to a great-looking free online math course intended for “adult learners and high school teachers”. NOT a course in computation or algebra or trig, but a course in cool math topics, such as prime numbers, combinatorics and game theory. Although they are aiming it at HS teachers, I think it could be a great resource for math-phobic elementary teachers, not because they would necessarily pass on that particular content to the kids they teach, but hopefully to help improve their attitude toward math, so that they could pass on some excitement about it (and also give age-appropriate introductions to many of the topics, even at the elementary level).

I haven’t had a chance to actually go beyond the overview of the course — perhaps I will have a chance to review it more completely at a later date. But it definitely seems worth a look.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Alane Tentoni permalink
    May 5, 2008 12:55 pm

    Hi Math Mom,
    Sorry to post off-topic.
    Just stopped by to say you’ve been tagged for a meme at my blog, Math Notes

  2. May 5, 2008 1:02 pm

    Hi Alane,

    I did see the tag. I don’t usually do personal memes here because I don’t like to give out too much personal information in this forum, preferring to maintain my privacy and anonymity. However, your meme looks like something I might be able to do in a way I would be comfortable with, so I am considering it. πŸ™‚

  3. May 10, 2008 6:17 pm

    That look slike a wonderful link. I’m a homeschooling mm and I’m just discovering how wonderful math is…The course looks like it might be a good fit! Thanks!

  4. June 18, 2008 11:06 pm

    Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation πŸ™‚ Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Hypodermically.

  5. Camilla permalink
    July 6, 2008 8:00 am

    Hi MathMom!

    I was so amazed when I found this blog. It’s just amazing, and I really admire you for trying to make math so interesting(not that it isn’t interesting to begin with) :). All the women I have had around me for all of my school career have always told me that a career in mathematics is not for a woman, but I disagree.

    The only thing I’m worried is that I won’t manage the higher level maths in university. Thus I want to ask(maybe the question is a bit stupid, but I’ve searched for the answer for two years now, and no one has been able to give it to me), does one really need a talent in mathematics to become a mathematics professor, or can hard work compensate for at least some aspects if a person lacks talent in mathematics?

    I hope you will continue updating this blog.

    Yours sincerely,


    P.S. I never knew there was a pi-day!

  6. October 4, 2008 8:19 pm

    I’m with Camilla — I admire you and all of the other mathematicians who make math interesting. I always struggled with math because I found it boring (at school). I have a daughter and I really want her to find math fun (in other words, to not be like me).

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