Teaching Maths

These guys like to talk about maths. Not that they know much about it, but that doesnt stop one from pretending to know, does it? You would know quite a few people like that. So the other day, these guys were talking about this blog, which apparently talks about how and why mathematics could be taught without words. The talk by Matthew Peterson is quite a nice watch, and he does make some very important points. Thats what Laurel thinks. He believes that mathematics being a study of an aspect of nature should not be dependent on language or words, while Hardy seems to disagree. He believes that while mathematics is the study of a particular aspect of nature, the process of teaching, of teacher communicating to pupil is necessarily dependent on language, and hence this isnt necessarily a great idea.

To this Laurel responds by pointing out the examples given in the video, and the illustrations the author has given about how some important concepts can be simply taught by building daily-life examples which the child can relate to, and build a mental picture where they can attach the concepts to a picture they are familiar with. This helps them to remember the concept by remembering the picture, making it simpler. And with the technology available to us today, the communication process can be changed to meet the learning needs of pupils.

Hardy, on the other hand believes that if students are asked to articulate the logic for doing a particular type of sum (say, how to solve a quadratic equation), they would be able to do this only if they have understood the concept very well. Sort of saying that in trying to teach a concept to someone else, one is also able to learn the concept quite well, and so, there is definitely a need for language. While Laurel didnt disagree with this, he believes that that language should not be central to the process, rather, it should be peripheral. Or, that this opportunity could be taken to integrate the teaching of mathematics and language through familiar, daily-life scenarios which children can relate to.

And this is where they decided to agree to disagree. And what would you think?

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