Wow. First thank you Stephen for putting together this great panel. Thank you fellow panelists for bringing so many different views to light. It truly shows the flexibility of mathematics, and approach.
Young minds are open to learning. Numbers and counting is part of most children’s lives before they can speak. It has been argued that infants think of their fingers and toes as the numbers 1 through 10, because of how often they are referenced in this manner.
But children’s brains are wired to discard information they don’t need. A brain that hears, “math is stupid”, “we don’t need math”, “math is too hard”, etc...is a brain that will avoid and discard math. There are two quotes that I love from Daniel J. Siegel, Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA, and author of The Whole-Brain Child
1.) “...Rather than trying to shelter...children from life’s inevitable difficulties, we can help them integrate those experiences into their understanding of the world and learn from them.”
Teach children how to persevere. Not everything is easy. With patience and time they can succeed.
2.)”....integration ...it coordinates and balances the separate regions of the brain that it links together. It’s easy to see when...kids aren’t integrated—they become overwhelmed by their emotions, confused and chaotic. They can’t respond calmly and capably to the situation at hand. Tantrums, meltdowns, aggression,...a loss of integration, also known as dis-integration.“
A loss of integration, disintegration, or disintegrate. To break down. No matter their age or level, we need to be mindful of disintegration. It is often read as disruptive, or unnecessary behavior, when at it’s core it is often the inability or unwillingness to communicate confusion.
Note: As adults we tend to look away when we know what’s going on, and bring our attention back when we need more information. Children are very much the opposite. They give attention to what they know, and turn away from what confounds their thinking. They need time to process information. Figure out how it fits. They do this during play, imitating, mimicking, imagination, and quiet times.
Teach, and nurture appreciation. Allow space for processing. The how and why will happen. Math is not training for the standardized test, not a race to the end of the textbook, not made for collecting A’s on a report card.
Math is a way to understand and express our world symbolically, through comparisons, and relationships. Math is ever evolving, because we are ever changing.
Math is a journey and an adventure. There’s plenty to discover, and lots of ways we use it everyday.
Learn it, share it, add to it. It belongs to all of us.
If you’re looking for me:
I’m Sophia Stier, creator LilMathGirl™️
Follow on Twitter and Instagram @LilMathGirl Contact by DM or at firstname.lastname@example.org Vist the website at LilMathGirl (Still a work in progress, but you can meet Lil’s Friends and see what they’re working on)
Upcoming speaking engagements:
CMC north, Asilomar CA, Dec. 2019
NCTM Chicago, April 2020
LilMathGirl Podcast launches mid January with guests such as Dr. Christopher Brownell (Math Recess), Dr. James Tanton (The Global Math Project, and Exploding Dots), Patricia Dickenson (Teaching Outside The Box -Technology Infused Math Instruction)