The Kukowski Chronicle

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Does Math Exist and how do you teach it?

Written By: Joe - Feb• 14•17

I was flipping through YouTube this afternoon when I came across a video by the PBS Idea Channel. “Is Math a Feature of the Universe or a Feature of Human Creation?” As they state in the video, Math does not have a physical component. You can not see math. This video goes through the differences between math realists and math anti-realists and some of the beliefs they have.

Apparently, most mathematician are math realists, and that leads to things like this:

“Understand a fraction 1/b as the quantity formed by 1 part when a whole is partitioned into b equal parts: understand a fraction a/b as a quantity formed by a parts of size 1/b. California 3rd Grade Math Standard

It makes much more sense to teach math another way, as explained in this TED Talk, “Math isn’t hard, it’s a language“. In this video Randy Palisoc talks about teaching math as a language.

In the video he talks about teaching his niece. He starts off with 1 apple + 1 apple = 2 apples. Then 3 Pencils + 2 Pencils = 5 Pencils.  From there it is an easy step to 4 billion + 1 billion = 5 billion and 1/3 +1/3 = 2/3 ( 1 Third +1 Third = 2 Thirds).

What does this all come down to? Some times you need to give up on personal beliefs and look at things a new way, especially when it come to teaching.

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