Monday, January 11, 2010

math = poetry?

 ... that certainly doesn't make any sense.  Math is a solid unmovable force of real concrete thinking - or is it?

For a long time now I have been very frustrated with the home school math program I have been using.  I don't know how to communicate these ideas to Zak in a way that he will understand.  His teacher says that he is doing well but I know that he is able to perform the functions asked of him without really getting it.

I don't blame him.  I hate math.  I am the "anti- math".  I'm a free spirit, I like creative expression, imagination ... etc.  math is .. well.. you know ... math.

But what if math wasn't the dull dry lump of grey cement that I imagine it to be?  What if it is in fact a very beautiful if not well understood form of art?

I am reading the most fascinating and challenging book right now that is really changing the way I want to do math.  It is called A Mathmetician's Lament.
Here is the captivating quote on the inside cover that caused me to purchase the book on a whim:
If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.
- Antoine de Saint Exupery

Anyone know of any good resources to help me on my way?


joy said...

you do more math than what is assigned? is that only because you feel that zack isn't really picking up on the math?

Jacquelyn said...

Nope, no extra math. I'm just growing more and more dissatisfied with the whole math program we are using and I need to know what I'm looking for in a different program before I take him out of his SLOCA math classes. This book has really helped me know what I want and what I don't want.

Heather Pelczar said...

I would like that book when you're through with it. Doesn't hurt to change my thinking before I get to where you are. And I am someone who thinks of math a that dull grey lump of hard clay. ewe.

pgepps said...

I guess I always had the impression that basic math (computation) was largely a matter of providing adequate incentives to do the drills--I suppose a certain amount of competition over timings worked for me, though when my Dad let me win a mechanical pencil, it became a treasured possession....there's an elegance to geometric proofs, and a delightful "find the shortest number of steps" challenge to algebraic simplifications, plus a certain joy in figuring out rules and procedures....but at the lower levels math really is mostly just about building patterns of recognition in order to ease the process at later stages. They say the talent for music and the talent for higher math come together, but in no particular relation to basic computation skills.

Saxon Math ruined my love of math for me in early high school. In my childhood, I would read books on the history of mathematics and try every brain-teaser I could get ahold of, and in junior high I did logic puzzles for fun....and taught myself to program in BASIC. When I got to trig, it turned out I already knew about functions and the basic triangular relations from working with computer graphics, albeit crudely. All that anecdotally by way of wondering whether too much incrementalism or too much romanticism might not both get in the way, long term.

Eric said...

Reminds me of these:
Arthur Benjamin's formula for changing math education and
Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity

Joanie said...

"Mathland" was out in the late 90's and while it was not perfect, it was FUN and seemed to really impart some sound concept building. It was a joy to teach and definitely brought art into the equation. (Pardon the pun - I couldn't resist!) Manipulatives, manipulatives, manipulatives. I cannot say it enough. I would love to chat more about this subject in person.

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