Teaching Maths to Kids


The education system has been screwed a lot over the years; it is high time to think of new ways.

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(Conrad Wolfram runs the worldwide arm of Wolfram Research, the mathematical lab behind the cutting-edge knowledge engine Wolfram Alpha)


“We’ve got a real problem with math education right now. Basically, no one’s very happy.

Those learning it think it’s disconnected, uninteresting and hard. Those trying to employ them think they don’t know enough. Governments realize that it’s a big deal for our economies, but don’t know how to fix it. And teachers are also frustrated. Yet math is more important to the world than at any point in human history. So at one end we’ve got falling interest in education in math, and at the other end we’ve got a more mathematical world, a more quantitative world, than we ever have had.

So what’s the problem, why has this chasm opened up, and what can we do to fix it? Well actually, I think the answer is staring us right in the face. Use computers. I believe that correctly using computers is the silver bullet for making math education work. So to explain that, let me first talk a little bit about what math looks like in the real world and what it looks like in education.

See, in the real world math isn’t necessarily done by mathematicians. It’s done by geologists, engineers, biologists, all sorts of different people — modeling and simulation. It’s actually very popular. But in education it looks very different — dumbed-down problems, lots of calculating — mostly by hand. Lots of things that seem simple and not difficult like in the real world, except if you’re learning it.”

Back in Malaysia, we still have not come to a stage where we have started to think of new ways of educating the young ones. No, no, we are too busy doing other things. We are still struggling with the current system. We are too busy deciding on which language we should be teaching Maths and Science (although the answer is staring right at our face). We are too busy enforcing religious rules by whacking a 10 years old kid for bringing a non-halal food for his own consumption. We are too busy speaking racial slurs towards the young ones and create unnecessary phobia towards schools. We are too busy prosecuting students who do critical thinking and actively participate in the nation’s affairs.

Perhaps that may explain this (and we have yet to compare with standards in other countries). Nonetheless, the use of computers to make learning more fun is a good place to start with (now couple that with rich information in the internet).

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