Friday, June 19, 2009

Lockhart's Lament or You Should Read This Now!

I've read this before but apparently I didn't blog it. Can't imagine why--it's fabulous! Makes me want to go back and re-teach high school math to Wolfie. A living books approach probably would have kept him interested in math, which he isn't anymore. :(

Anyway, here is a bit of "A Mathematician's Lament"by Paul Lockhart, an elegant proof that we may be teaching our children about mathematics but we're certainly not teaching them mathematics.

"By concentrating on what, and leaving out why, mathematics is reduced to an empty shell. The art is not in the “truth” but in the explanation, the argument. It is the argument itself which gives the truth its context, and determines what is really being said and meant. Mathematics is the art of explanation. If you deny students the opportunity to engage in this activity— to pose their own problems, make their own conjectures and discoveries, to be wrong, to be creatively frustrated, to have an inspiration, and to cobble together their own explanations and proofs— you deny them mathematics itself. So no, I’m not complaining about the presence of facts and formulas in our mathematics classes, I’m complaining about the lack of mathematics in our mathematics classes. "

It's a great argument against schooling in general, since while he claims no other subject has been so sucked dry of life and reason for living, the same could be said about history, economics, and most science courses. I've even seen it done in English classes. Pretty much any class that uses a textbook is about as interesting as the pile of wood pulp used to make said textbook. Oh yeah, I went there!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for pointing me to this delightful bit of reading!
Agnes (physicist, math lover, homeschooling mom)