Monday, 27 September 2010

Mathematical conversations

Walking to a fantastic exhibition at the Whitworth gallery with my daughter yesterday (where they've built an 'indoor forest'), we had a discussion about maths. She struggles with maths. The stress of having to get the right answer puts her in a spin and she can't think straight. She'd much rather be painting or writing. And she hasn't learnt her tables... perhaps because she just doesn't want to go to what she regards as such a 'cold' place. I don't  blame her!

But I don't think maths is cold; education manages to freeze it! In my attempt to unfreeze it, we had a wide-ranging conversation about tables, number bonds and Fibonacci numbers, illustrating it with fir-trees as we walked through the park. And the walking helped as we went through the series. Sitting people down at desks to do this stuff seems crazy... intellectual discovery comes with a discovery of the inter-relatedness of bodily movements and mental creativity.

It's interesting that I feel that I have to encourage her to improve. I can't quite rationalise my compulsion, beyond merely wanting to conform to normative expectations. But I also intuit that she has to love it; indeed, (and I'm not sure about this...) maybe she ought to love it.

1 comment:

realstrings said...

I have an opposite problem. My boy is quite happy (ish) churning out maths but is unmoved (hates, actually) writing. There are lots of things he does love, and I keep coming back to all those inspiring videos (Ken Robinson, Stephen Fry, Steve Jobs et al) who expound the need to follow one's passion. But I also can't stop myself signing up to the concept that the fundamental skills of literacy and numeracy are at the root of all learning. If you could talk me out of that I'd leave him alone. Hey Mark, thanks for posting something I understand!