Retire Math

written on January 01, 2013

Thanks to Dan Conner for the link1

I’ve stumbled upon Bret Victor’s work before. I really like it. These articles make me rethink how we teach and learn. Teaching math identifies some of the pronounced failures of the way we go about educating people. Much of math is rote memorization. It hangs out at the first (and least useful) stage of Blooms Taxonomy. A successful transfer of knowledge is not the goal, it is a step in allowing those ideas to be useful.

Math is a language. But it isn’t taught as a language. It is taught as something else, like a complete subject or field. There are fields in “math”, but they really shouldn’t be called math. Math is a language.

Understanding the world through the language of math (what is being taught in math classes) is difficult. It seems like we haven’t evolved our visual illustrations of the principles beyond what abstract symbol manipulation could provide. (Formulas on paper). You look at the bell-curve-slope being poured into that test tube and you instantly understand what the integral is (area/volume under a curve).

Math is easy to poke fun at because it is awkward and painful to me. But I suspect that many areas of teaching and learning are also as stale. Programming, writing, sciences,…

  1. Brett Victor’s KillMath -