Stop Teaching Kids To Compute Math!

Do we really believe that the math most students do in school is really more than applying procedures to problems students really d not understand for reasons they don’t get?  Is what they are learning even practical anymore.  Conrad  Wolfram says in math education, we’re spending about perhaps 80 percent of the time teaching students to calculate math.  Yet, that’s the one step computers can do better than any human after years of practice. Instead, we ought to be using computers to do the calculating and have the students to spend much more effort on learning how to pose the right questions, apply to real world and verify. Wolfram says important to understand that math does not equal calculating – it is a much broder subject. Watch Conrad’s though provoking Ted Talk!

2 responses to “Stop Teaching Kids To Compute Math!

  1. There are just so many ways to learn math! Appreciate the post.

  2. He’s wrong. Not only is the ability to calculate important, but the ability to calculate in one’s head is a prerequisite for higher math. The first thing one needs to understand in math is equivalency. You need to know, not to think through, but to know, that 1/2 = 0.5 = 50% = cos 60 degrees.

    When you are trying to understand new math concepts, it helps immensely to see the equivalency in your head. If you can do calculations, then factoring is a whole lot easier. If you can’t factor in your head, then you probably won’t understand factors. If you can do calculations, then finding the least common denominator is child’s play. If you can’t you probably won’t intuitively understand why the LCD is important.

    Nobody is going to understand how to factor binomial equations if they can’t figure out how much to tip a waiter without the aid of a calculator.

    What’s more, math calculation sharpens the mind, teaches focus, concentration and stamina. It provides a real source of self-esteem to kids, who can demonstrate that they can do something perceived as difficult. It is an accomplishment.

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