[IAEP] foundational skills in literacy and numeracy

Costello, Rob R Costello.Rob.R at edumail.vic.gov.au
Sun Jan 4 17:17:59 EST 2009

This might be of interest - "how do we learn math" by Keith Devlin -



honest appraisal of the state of the research 


"Still, over the past twenty years I've read a ton of research in
[relevant] domains - enough to realize that we know far, far less about
how the brain does mathematics, how it acquired that ability, and how
young children learn it, than we do about the subject itself."


Contrasts two views of math learning


He makes a case that the process of abstraction by which we initially
learn number concepts, for example, is not the same as how many
mathematicians tend to learn more advanced concepts ....that many often
learn in a rule based way, and then deepen and generalise and link what
they have learnt - like a chess player learning the rules as arbitrary
rules, and only later seeing the patterns and strategies


Also expands on Lockhart's lament  - which is generally arguing that a
rule based approach kills the life out of most early maths education 



which I gather is Paperts critique - school maths is being like being
fed the menu at a restaurant 


the contrast between these positions - where and when they are
appropriate -seems to be at the heart of the "maths wars"


more here:



Bill, I saw that ABC doco - love the light hearted spoof angle; and it
gets you thinking


Like the observation that not one Roman mathematician is celebrated
today, and the dark ages in Europe also co-incided with the Roman
numeral number system, while India math was centuries ahead...someone
quoted Whitehead to similar effect - good notation frees the mind to
work on the real problems





From: iaep-bounces at lists.sugarlabs.org
[mailto:iaep-bounces at lists.sugarlabs.org] On Behalf Of Alan Kay
Sent: Monday, 5 January 2009 5:06 AM
To: Bill Kerr; iaep
Subject: Re: [IAEP] foundational skills in literacy and numeracy


Bill --

Also check out mathematicians turned great math teachers (such as Mary
Laycocke) who have spent decades learning how to get young children to
learn "real math". Much of this would be called "constructionalistic"
(by those who call themselves "constructionalists").

Also, I have given an account in several places of some of the wonderful
teaching approaches of first grade teacher Julia Nishijima (when she was
at the LA Open Magnet School). These include setting up an environment
in which children construct and really do discover 1st and 2nd order
growth laws as arithmetic progressions. Most of her (and Mary
Laycocke's) stuff was done before computers (and doesn't need computers)
but can later be enhanced by computers.

The biggest limitation by far here is not the knowledge of how to do
this stuff, but the fact that most elementary school teachers have
essentially no sense of math, and very few of these really want to learn
anything about math.





From: Bill Kerr <billkerr at gmail.com>
To: iaep <iaep at lists.sugarlabs.org>
Sent: Sunday, January 4, 2009 9:45:04 AM
Subject: Re: [IAEP] foundational skills in literacy and numeracy

	I'm not aware of anything that Papert wrote about teaching
foundational skills like number (meaning integers) or basic literacy
using phonics. 


self correction:
The Progressive Construction of Mind by Robert Lawler June 1980 (Logo
Memo 57, MIT AI Lab) was probably supervised by Papert

Naturalistic study of his two children aged 6 (Miriam) and 8 (Robby)
includes plenty of observations about how the kids learnt addition,
subtraction etc. I need to reread this.


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