|Publisher:||Delta Stream Media|
Children dream big. They crave exciting and beautiful adventures to pretend-play. Just ask them who they want to be when they grow up. The answers will run a gamut from astronauts to zoologists and from ballerinas to Jedi masters. So how come children don’t dream of becoming mathematicians?
Kids don’t dream of becoming mathematicians because they already are mathematicians. Children have more imagination than it takes to do differential calculus. They are frequently all too literate like logicians and precise like set theorists. They are persistent, fascinated with strange outcomes, and are out to explore the “what-if” scenarios. These are the qualities of good mathematicians!
As for mathematics itself, it’s one of the most adventurous endeavours a young child can experience. Mathematics is exotic, even bizarre. It is surprising and unpredictable. And it can be more exciting, scary, and dangerous than sailing on high seas!
But most of the time math is not presented this way. Instead, children are required to develop their mathematical skills rather than being encouraged to work on something more nebulous, like the mathematical state of mind. Along the way the struggle and danger are de-emphasized, not celebrated – with good intentions, such as safety and security. In order to achieve this, children are introduced to the tame, accessible scraps of math, starting with counting, shapes, and simple patterns. In the process, everything else mathematical gets left behind “for when the kids are ready.” For the vast majority of kids,
that readiness never comes. Their math stays simplified, impoverished, and limited. That’s because you can’t get there from here. If you don’t start walking the path of those exotic and dangerous math adventures, you never arrive.