Have I mentioned lately that I'm working on a book? The title has changed; now it's Playing With Math: Stories from Math Circles, Homeschoolers, and the Internet. I'm working with over 15 authors on chapters, and a bunch of my favorite bloggers are contributing posts. (If you'd like to contribute a blog post, email me at mathanthologyeditor on gmail - maybe I can fit it in. I don't have a publisher for sure yet. If the one I'm talking with doesn't work out, I'll probably go with lulu.com.)
I posted before on math myths, but that was a long time ago, and I've been giving it some more thought because I'd like to start the book out with this. I've rearranged and changed things up a bit. But I wonder if I've left anything important out. Can you help me?
(Some of the wording in my list below comes from Mind Over Math, by Kogelman and Warren, a great book for overcoming math anxiety. But I’ve added and changed things quite a bit.)
Who does math?
Myth #1: Some people have a 'math mind' and some don't.
Math #2: Math requires logic, not intuition. Math is not creative.
Myth #3: Men are better at math than women.
What do young people need?
Myth #4: Elementary school math is all about arithmetic.
Myth #5: It's bad to count on your fingers.
Myth #6: Gotta memorize those time tables.*
How is math done?
Myth #7: Learning math is about learning how to follow a procedure, and there's lots to memorize.
Myth #8: It's always important to get the answer exactly right, and you must always know how you got the answer.
Myth #9: Mathematicians do problems quickly, in their heads, and math is done by working intensely until the problem is solved.
Myth #10: There is a best way to do math problems.
So. What's missing from this list?
* I'd better put my reply to myth #6, or I'll catch way too much flak. It's a myth only because parents worry more about that than about whether their kids are learning problem-solving skills - hoe to really use math. Here's my draft response to this myth:
Sure, they'll need to know their times tables, for all sorts of reasons. But if someone doesn't memorize easily, give them something more intriguing to think about, where they get slowed down, but not stopped, by not knowing their times tables. The skill will develop in this need-to-know context.
Drill is likely to put a fact in the part of your brain that holds meaningless information like phone numbers. But our brains are much more adept at handling the things that have lots of connections. If you can get the times tables memorized in a way where they’re being used, that’s the best.