Wild About Math! Making Math fun and accessible


Sue VanHattum – Inspired by Math #38

Sue VanHattum is a math professor, blogger, mother, author/editor, and fundraiser. She's a real powerhouse of motivation for making math fun and accessible to more of our young folks. Sue has teamed up with a number of writers to compile a book, "Playing With Math," which she is producing in partnership with Maria Droujkova in a community sponsored publication model.

Sue and I shared a delightful chat about what math is, what the book is about, and how we can all get more inspired to engage in math with our kids. And, Sue sprinkles the conversation with some interesting open-ended math problems. Think part coffee table conversation part math circle.

About Sue VanHattum

sue vanhattum"I love teaching math, yet throughout my twenty-some years of teaching I've struggled with the fact that what I want to teach is problem solving but what I do teach most of the time is how to follow recipes (here’s how you find the slope or the vertex, here’s how you factor, and so on). Until recently, I never felt that I had made much progress in resolving this dilemma. In early 2008, I started reading Living Math Forum, an email group where participants discuss how to help their children learn math. In the years since that discovery, my life has been full of math-play adventures. I’m still learning how to bring that spirit into my students’ lives."


About "Playing With Math"

From PlayingWithMath.org

Why play with math? Because play is the best way to learn.

From the introduction of the book:

Math, more than any other subject, has to be approached by each student at their own pace, and in their own way. There may be one right answer, but there are more ways to think about the path from question to answer than you’d expect.

What is math?

Most people think it’s adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing; knowing your times tables; knowing how to divide fractions; knowing how to follow the rules to find the answer. Math is so much more than that! Math is seeing patterns, solving puzzles, using logic, finding ways to connect disparate ideas, and so much more. People who do math play with infinity, shapes, map coloring, tiling, and probability; they analyze how things change over time, or how one particular change will affect a whole system. Math is about concepts, connections, patterns. It can be a game, a language, an art form. Everything is connected, often in surprising and beautiful ways. The stories in this book will be full of examples that show math from these angles. More.

Reserve a copy of the book

Go to Incited.org

Other links of interest

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  1. What is crucial in teaching maths is the age of the students. Teaching an 8 year old is not the same as teaching an 18 year old. Maths teachers must be clearly classified by the age of their students. Sue Van Hattum makes no reference at all to the preferred age of her students. She will be more effective as a teacher if she states the preferred age of her students, and also if she can recommend another maths teacher when her students become too old for her. This is a principle which maths educationalists fail to understand.

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