First watch this video, right to the end.

I love the analogies Gordon uses to describe how we should reform elementary school mathematics. He also has an excellent argument against "real world" mathematics. What he prefers to use instead is "engaging" mathematics and I am happy to reform my own use of "real world" to "engaging" as it is a more inclusive term, and includes more mathematical ideas than the more simplistic real world focus. For more information on Gordon’s approach to mathematics, see **http://www.mathpickle.com**.

How can we make mathematics at all levels more engaging? Gordon suggests games, problems which are open ended and apply to a wide variety of learners, and abolishing our need for students to be "fast calculators" when computers can do this so much better.

What would you suggest?

## Mylene says:

Build stuff. Tinker, construct, design. Make, break, fix. Disassemble, improve, reassemble. What if students were building treehouses and rockets and trying to add a camera to their kite? Make magazine and something similar.

June 3, 2011 — 12:33 pm

## David Miles says:

I like this. It’s a very good argument. I think you’d still run up against people saying ‘yes, but when’s he going to learn his timestables’, but I’m not sure that’s such a big deal anymore. Certainly I’ve got a whole bunch of kids in my grade 6 class who are very good mathematical thinkers, without necessarily being ‘speed mathematicians’ or anything like that.

I love the bit about ‘real-world’ mathematics – if we focus on that too much we lose track of what mathematics is really about. The real problem with mathematics classrooms is if they are dull and boring – as long as the kids are engaged, they’re probably learning good stuff. I also think that if they are very young, they probably don’t know enough about the world to be able to apply their mathematics to it. It’s like reading – it’s very, very difficult to learn to read if you have little contextual knowledge to link your reading to, but it’s really easy to learn to read if you do. So as long as the activities in class are engaging, interesting, challenging to everyone involved, it’s fine if they’re not ‘real’ problems.

Good video, sharing it with the primary maths people at my school.

June 4, 2011 — 12:46 pm