Since reviewing Dan Meyer (and colleague’s) new piece Central Park yesterday, I’ve had my mind in a bit of a muddle thinking about the difference between the kind of math that I think kids will like to see and the kind of math that other folks think that kids would like to see.

Dan’s post went in a much better and much more productive direction – what kinds of math do kids find exciting when you ask them? Well timed, Dan, well timed, and what an absolutely awesome list. It is so amazing to see the mix of math theory and math that connects with the lives of the kids: topics ranging from Brower’s Fixed Point theorem, Symmetry, and Graham’s number to golf handicaps, diving scoring, and formatting yearbooks (which I bet looks a lot like the “Central Park” task). I’ve got no idea at all what “Mole Train Woot Woot” is, but I want to know. Badly.

Earlier this year Ed Frenkel did a nice interview with Numberphile:

He has several interesting things to say about math education:

“So how do we make people realize that mathematics is this incredible archipelago of knowledge?”

I think that Dan’s project is an tremendously exciting and inspiring way to approach Frenkel’s question.

“If you want your kids to understand and appreciate the beauty and power of mathematics, we have to connect it to our daily lives”

You definitely see this connection in some of the projects, but it is also nice that many projects involve interesting ideas from pure math. Maybe the students are not able to fully understand all of these ideas, but these ideas from theory are still somehow capturing their imagination, and that is so great to see.

“In the case of mathematics [students] are not even aware of the masterpieces of great mathematicians the way that they are are of the existence of the masterpieces of the great artists.”

Well, Ed Frenkel, on this point I think that Dan’s post will really make you happy.

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