More on Math Education
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.