When I doubt myself in math…

Many people can wrap their minds around unschooling, but invariably will ask, “But what about math??”

I have much I hope to write in future posts on the subject, but whenever I begin to doubt myself in math, I turn to two articles that always remind me to calm down.  Each article is well worth the time to fully study and read, but I will list a few of my favorite points from each.

(Both are by Peter Gray, Ph.D., research professor at Boston College, prominent author, and writer for Psychology Today.)  

Kids Learn Math Easily When They Control Their Own Learning

  • Using “math play, young children often discover the basic concepts of adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, and more. Once they have the concepts, the actual ways of performing these operations come easily.”
  • “Self-learning–learning in which the child is in charge–is almost always, in the long run, more efficient and enduring than anything that can be taught by even the most brilliant teacher.”
  • “Beyond the world of food, games, and handling your own money, math is also an essential tool in some careers–such in physics, engineering, and accounting. People who freely choose such careers eagerly learn the math they need as part of their self-training, regardless of any deficiency in their previous math education.”
  • “Math lessons and programs are easy for kids who choose to do them and are allowed to do them in their own ways, on their own schedules.”
  • “Dear parents, please stop worrying about your kids’ learning of math. If they are free to play, they are likely to play with math and learn to enjoy its patterns. If they live real lives that involve calculations, they will learn, in their own unique ways, precisely the calculations that they need to live those lives.”

When Less is More: The Case for Teaching Less Math in Schools

This article references a fascinating study from 1929.  The results are thrilling, and I hope you will take the time to read it.  An experiment was done to see if less math, rather than more, would improve scores.

  • “In sum, Benezet showed that kids who received just one year of arithmetic, in sixth grade, performed at least as well on standard calculations and much better on story problems than kids who had received several years of arithmetic training. This was all the more remarkable because of the fact that those who received just one year of training were from the poorest neighborhoods–the neighborhoods that had previously produced the poorest test results. Why have almost no educators heard of this experiment? Why isn’t Benezet now considered to be one of the geniuses of public education? I wonder.”

Soon I hope to share more on this blog about how we incorporate math into our everyday lives.  Are there any articles you have read or other references that inspire you?  Please share!