Monday, December 29, 2008

The Art of Math

Paul Lockhart write on math education:

"By concentrating on what, and leaving out why, mathematics is reduced to an empty shell. The art is not in the “truth” but in the explanation, the argument. It is the argument itself which gives the truth its context, and determines what is really being said and meant. Mathematics is the art of explanation. If you deny students the opportunity to engage in this activity— to pose their own problems, make their own conjectures and discoveries, to be wrong, to be creatively frustrated, to have an inspiration, and to cobble together their own explanations and proofs— you deny them mathematics itself."

This sounds so similar to what Joan Cotter, the developer of Right Start Math, says regarding the how math is taught in Asia. There it is considered normal to make mistakes, to get the wrong answer and to struggle as you learn. The process is just as important, probably more so, than the outcome. puts the U.S.'s ability to teach math effectively in sad perspective.

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