25 Jul 2012 Leave a Comment
has been quite lonely lately. We missed the first two park days this month, last week it was just us for an hour until another family came to play. This week it was just three families. This park has been under construction and I think that’s why people have skipped out, but we did have fun playing in the creek.
Hannah put the bucket on her head and then made a face because I was taking a picture.
Here are the girls trying to pull up a chain that was in the ground, I was going to tell them that it was cemented in there….but I didn’t.
I talked with my friend about this book, she had read the essay awhile back.
It’s a great book, not only for the sentiment about how schools ruin math for children, but you could pretty much stick any word in there in place of ‘math’ and get the same result. Not all schools are bad or evil or boring, but the way that things are taught are not always taught to a particular kind of student or taught in a logical manner. But then, you can’t teach to 30 different kinds of students in a class, you need to pick the average and teach to that. And you can’t make up your own curriculum in school, you need to teach from the textbook to make sure all the points are covered. You can read the essay on-line here. Here are the opening paragraphs where Paul Lockhart is describing what it would look like if the language of music was taught by a school.
A musician wakes from a terrible nightmare. In his dream he finds himself in a society where music education has been made mandatory. “We are helping our students become more competitive in an increasingly sound-filled world.” Educators, school systems, and the state are put in charge of this vital project. Studies are commissioned, committees are formed, and decisions are made— all without the advice or participation of a single working musician or composer.
Since musicians are known to set down their ideas in the form of sheet music, these curious black dots and lines must constitute the “language of music.” It is imperative that students become fluent in this language if they are to attain any degree of musical competence; indeed, it would be ludicrous to expect a child to sing a song or play an instrument without having a thorough grounding in music notation and theory. Playing and listening to music, let alone composing an original piece, are considered very advanced topics and are generally put off until college, and more often graduate school.
- A Mathematician’s Lament by Paul Lockhart
I am a fan of trying to explain to kids why they need to do things and how it relates to the real world. I find that they are much more likely to cooperate with you if they know that learning fractions will help them bake cookies or that writing will help them fill out college applications. Mr. Lockhart does a great job of writing an essay where he tries to help others see how to fix the current math situation in schools by rethinking the whole way we go around teaching it. But, he’s on to something more, sometimes we need to rethink how we teach every subject, not just math. I especially LOVE the idea that we need to teach Algebra I and then II and not put Geometry right in the middle of it or how about the strange notion that playing games in the younger grades to teach concepts rather than doing mindless worksheets or memorizing formulas is a good idea.
Anyway, you should go read that essay, it’s pretty good (and funny too, who knew mathematicians had a sense of humor….) And a math joke for you:
An engineer, a physicist and a mathematician are staying in a hotel.
The engineer wakes up and smells smoke. He goes out into the hallway and sees a fire, so he fills a trash can from his room with water and douses the fire. He goes back to bed.
Later, the physicist wakes up and smells smoke. He opens his door and sees a fire in the hallway. He walks down the hall to a fire hose and after calculating the flame velocity, distance, water pressure, trajectory, etc. extinguishes the fire with the minimum amount of water and energy needed.
Later, the mathematician wakes up and smells smoke. He goes to the hall, sees the fire and then the fire hose. He thinks for a moment and then exclaims, “Ah, a solution exists!” and then goes back to bed.