“The mathematical sciences particularly exhibit order, symmetry, and limitation; and these are the greatest forms of the beautiful.” – Aristotle
Aristotle appreciated math. So do my husband, father-in-law and sister-in-law. They made it their livelihoods. As for me…well, if push came to shove, I’d plead The Fifth.
However, I did read a well-written essay by Benedict Carey, titled “Studying Young Minds, and How to Teach Them.” It appeared as part of a series in The New York Times last month. Unfortunately it was published on Dec. 20 – just a few days before Christmas. I doubt it got the notice it deserved, but I found it fascinating and think teachers and parents will find it and the rest of the series interesting too.
Carey talks about how cognitive neuroscience research is challenging the way educators have traditionally taught math and other concepts to young children. While some of these findings may have trickled their way into the classroom, I think the information bears repeating. Numerous brain science studies and researchers are cited, as well as a few teachers who have incorporated these new ideas into their classrooms through fun math games, activities and reading.
“Teaching is an ancient craft, and yet we really have had no idea how it affected the developing brain,” said Kurt Fischer, in The New York Times article. Fischer is the director of the Mind, Brain and Education program at Harvard. “Well, that is beginning to change, and for the first time we are seeing the fields of brain science and education work together.”
For those of you on the front lines in the classroom, please weigh in! Give the article and its readers’ comments a look and then offer your feedback here. Does this article resonate with you? Are you applying any of these principles in your math curriculum? Or are your hackles up? I’d like to hear what you have to say.
If you are looking for some basic math concept picture books, Big Universe offers about two dozen online options from its publishing partners. Members also have created many volumes about math and counting, and you and your students can do the same.