Motion Math Blog

Keith Devlin: The Way You Learned Math Is So Old School

Everybody has a head for figures. Anybody in the world can master basic arithmetic to the degree that they will get problems correct 98% of the time. – Keith Devlin, The Math Guy

The way we do math has changed, driven by our changing needs as a society. Math is now taught based on a need to understand the number system and its meaning, as opposed to arithmetic computation, as Devlin explains in this talk.

“You cannot become good at algebra without a mastery of arithmetic,” Devlin says, “but arithmetic itself is no longer the ultimate goal.” Thus the emphasis in teaching mathematics today is on getting people to be sophisticated, algebraic thinkers. To get there, we need to understand the number system and what numbers mean.

What daily life situations do you think can help your child connect math to his or her life?

One Response to “Keith Devlin: The Way You Learned Math Is So Old School”

  1. I have two kids. A 4 yo and a 2yo.My oldest kid was disneoagd with autism, so he might not be a good benchmark. But he loved the Brain Quest Workbook. There are lots of tracing. Some fun games and quite a lot of puzzles, which were kinda hard for him. The Brain Quest Workbook is divided in 11 Sections:- ABCs, which makes you trace each letter in addition to some games with each letter.- Phonics, which simply shows you several objects with that letter.- Spelling and vocabulary, which was kinda difficult for a 3yo- Numbers, where you simply have to trace each number.- Shapes, which simply goes over a few basic shapes- Patterns, which wasn’t what I was expecting. It’s for your kid to recognize patterns like triangle, circle, triangle, circle, triangle, what’s next? I found this interesting, but it was kinda hard for my kid.- Matching and Sorting, where you had to match animals or shirts or other similar/related objects.- Time and money. I wish it showed my kid the value of money and that it didn’t grow on trees, but it was basically in the sense of 5 pennies = 1 dime .- Community, which goes over some community concepts, like firefighter, cops, parks, banks, etc- Science, where the kid learns about season, recycling, growth, animals, etc.- Fun and Games, which is self explanatory. Overall, my kid loved the book, but it was hard for him. My son could write his name at 2yo, so he loved all the tracing exercises, but the brain teasers were a bit difficult for him.

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