Saturday, February 2, 2008

Math Marketing

Stuff like this really makes my blood boil! Our math education has enough problems as it is... we don't need people to go around screwing it up even more! I find a very good summary of the innate evil of this idea here.

Ever since learning about modular arithmetic, I cursed my elementary school teachers for not teaching me about it as soon as I understood clocks and division, so that it could be more intuitive for me as a college student. Is modular arithmetic generally useful? For most people, no. Is it any harder to learn about than fractions? No. Can it lead to talking about more interesting, fun things to do with math? Yes. Could it be a good head start to those who choose to learn about real math? Yes.

And what about prime numbers? There is sooo much that can be gained from spending more time on prime numbers and prime factorizations. Once you know have that, combine it with modular arithmetic and you're all ready for some basic number and group theory...

I think one of the biggest problems is that soooo many people just get it ingrained into their heads that math is boring or not fun before they even start, based on how adults around them talk about it. I firmly believe that if we could end all nay-speaking of math, more people would enjoy it and actually excel! Unfortunately, that will never happen, so I've come to accept the idea of proving to brainwashed kids that math can be, no, is fun and exciting and creative. I know there are many fun math activities that people have done to get kids excited about math, and it worked!!

I'm trying to build a repertoire of such activities. So please all, rack your brains for all those fun math things you did growing up and share them here :) Think macaroni and cheese colored blocks, think abacus, think making shapes out of paper, think clever math puzzles. What did you enjoy about math?


Jessica said...

Have u try the MATH online bookstore Cocomartini

I get all my textbooks for this semester from this bookstore. All are brand new and half price discount.

Good luck and wish some help.

hehe ^_^

Mel said...

Yeah. I got the same bizarre-o message on mine too. Do you know these "people?"

I agree that there are a lot of fun math activities for kids. But I think the problem of people thinking math is boring must occur sometime during the onset of adolescence because the 3rd and 4th graders I have worked with have generally loved math. Like, it's their favorite subject. Teachers for all grades definitely need to make sure they're giving their students authentic math learning experiences to keep students "into" math.

P.S. I have to admit I didn't read the whole article, but I liked where the person was going with it. Hopefully I'll be able to read it in the near future.

Anonymous said...

Math should be fun for kids and is as long as you don't preface math with negativity. It is the same thing with vegetables. Kids don't like them, because they think they are supposed to hate them.

My kids enjoy math, because it is fun. Cooking is a great way to teach fractions and you do need to know fractions in order to cook. Especially if you are my kids and mom "forgets" the easy cups and spoons and makes you figure how how many 2/3C you need to measure out 1C of sugar!

We love to do math in the car. We count, skip count, try to trick each other with word problems, etc.

Irina said...

I know that guy: Professor DeTurck! He teaches math at Penn and the year I graduated he became Dean of the College there. He seemed a lot less screwy than some of the other mathematicians at Penn so I'm sort of surprised he'd say "down with fractions" and also that he says studying them should be postponed till after calculus. That doesn't make much sense... and it's odd that he'd mention calculus at all b/c most pure mathematicians are pretty anti-calculus. My adviser was convinced calculus should be abolished and group theory should be taught in elementary school.

You can see why I left Penn and switched over to the applied side :).