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Conrad Wolfram on teaching Math

Here's a recent interview in Madrid with Conrad Wolfram titled: The right way to teach math.

What do you think?

Wolfram founded ComputerBasedMath.org to change how Math is taught:

How do we fix math education? The importance of math to jobs, society, and thinking has exploded over the last few decades. Meanwhile, math education has gotten stuck or has even slipped backward. Why has this chasm opened up? It's all about computers: when they do the calculating, people can work on harder questions, try more concepts, and play with a multitude of new ideas.

computerbasedmath.org is a project to build a completely new math curriculum with computer-based computation at its heart—alongside a campaign to refocus math education away from historical hand-calculating techniques and toward relevant and conceptually interesting topics.

Conrad Wolfram also presented a TED Global 2010 talk.

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  1. I saw Conrad’s TED talk and couldn’t finish watching it. It seemed he was going a bit too far in the direction of computers/calculators doing the math than what I think would be helpful for students.

    This interview made me change my mind. I think he did a better job of explaining that students still need to learn the concepts, they just don’t need to learn the processes and practice them over and over again. As long as students understand the concept of division and can divide smaller numbers, teachers can focus on developing higher-level thinking that will allow students to reason around division of larger numbers. Instead of practicing the multiple steps over and over again, students should be learning how to tell if an answer is fairly accurate. Most students can’t do that, even when they can divide flawlessly, and I think that leaves a huge whole that will is harder to fill.

  2. I am supportive in using technology in the classroom. However, our school curriculum is also designed to prepare students for the real world specifically consumer math. Students that are proficient in hand-calculating are better able to make estimations regarding interest rates, income tax deductions, and etc. Even practical real life problems such as repainting your home requires being able to hand-calculate how many cans of paint to buy.

  3. There are a lot of people disagreeing with Conrad regarding his views, but I think his points are perfectly valid. Maybe, he is just ahead of our time.

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