Thursday, November 25, 2010

Real World Math and Computers

Check out this TED talk by Conrad Wolfram on "Real World Math and Computers". Conrad Wolfram is the co-founder of the Wolfram Alpha website and he gives an amazing perspective on the teaching of math. This video is a must see for those with a real desire to change the way math is understood and learned (see Dan Meyer, Alfie Kohn posts).

Wolfram says there are four parts to teaching math. They are:

  1. posing the right question

  2. taking a real world problem and changing it into a math formulation

  3. computation

  4. taking the math formulation and applying it in a real world verification

He says that 90% of what we do in the class is computation which is the least beneficial and the most painstaking. He uses the example of teaching beginning calculus to very young students. it is not that hard for them to get the big ideas of calculus but we don't teach them because we get too involved with the onerous calculations of calculus.

When people like Dan Meyer and Conrad Wolfram talk about the changes needed in the teaching of math, I feel like they have been in my classroom!

Have a look at the video! Read more of Alfie Kohn and Dan Meyer.

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