It must be time for another calculus topic, right?
I found this article interesting, though a bit naive.I agree with the premise (and might even buy the book and subscribe to the newsletter!).
Finding an appropriate path hinges on appreciating an often-overlooked fact—that “the complexity of the idea and the difficulty of doing it are separate, independent dimensions,” she says. “Unfortunately a lot of what little children are offered is simple but hard—primitive ideas that are hard for humans to implement,” because they readily tax the limits of working memory, attention, precision and other cognitive functions. Examples of activities that fall into the “simple but hard” quadrant: Building a trench with a spoon (a military punishment that involves many small, repetitive tasks, akin to doing 100 two-digit addition problems on a typical worksheet, as Droujkova points out), or memorizing multiplication tables as individual facts rather than patterns.
Far better, she says, to start by creating rich and social mathematical experiences that are complex (allowing them to be taken in many different directions) yet easy (making them conducive to immediate play). Activities that fall into this quadrant: building a house with LEGO blocks, doing origami or snowflake cut-outs, or using a pretend “function box” that transforms objects (and can also be used in combination with a second machine to compose functions, or backwards to invert a function, and so on).
Of course, there is concern that the Tiger Moms will take this too far (not clear exactly how they can be more Tigerish), and, separately, the poor children will be left behind. The author asserts that any “semi-literate” adult can lead kids in this kind of exploration, but I am skeptical the author has ever seen a “semi-literate” person try to teach math.
However, math instruction is one of the reasons I decided to remove my children from the school system. I don’t need them to be accelerated, but I want them to find joy in it. The focus on getting all kids to a certain standard has sucked all magic out of math (at least in the way I have seen it implemented).
The resources we will use this year are Beast Academy and Life of Fred. I find these to be whimsical and thought provoking, though BA does have some serious computation expectations. I also love Kangaroo Math (a international competition that is the only source I could find for challenging math for very young kids). The difficult but solvable practice problems are for kids as young as first grade.
Do your kids love math? Did you? What do you think schools should do differently? How can I get my kids to be the youngest to pass the AP Calc exam ever and win some kind of homeschool award and validation?