**Preview**: Today I was interviewed by Sol Lederman for his Inspired by Math podcast series. He'll post it tomorrow. We had lots of fun talking about math and the book. He asked me what math is, and I got scared for a moment that I wouldn't have anything much to say. I got over that hump.

**Review**: Holly Brown heard about

*Playing With Math*on the Living Math Forum email list. Her review of the book follows:

"Playing
With Math" came along at a very fortuitous moment for me. I'm a
homeschooling mom (teaching my 11yo, 9yo & 5yo, boys) who also happens
to be a certified math teacher with classroom & tutoring
experience. I've just moved to a new town and was thinking about
starting up math circles in my home as a way to jump-start math
learning for my boys. When I began homeschooling years ago, I thought I
had to find the "best, right curriculum" for my son to achieve math
mastery. I've been moving away from that idea slowly but surely over the
years (with help from the Living Math group and especially Julie
Brennan's posts). I have taken a lot from the Charlotte Mason
methodology as I've implemented my boys' education, and feel like a
"Playing With Math" or Living Math approach is the right way to go. Now,
to unlearn my "teacherly" ways, and relearn how to let the kids and
math lead the learning! This book is the ideal place to start.

I
would highly recommend the book

*Playing With Math*to any parent, teacher, or homeschooler, as it offers a new way to look at math and how your child/student would benefit from a completely different approach to math. This book is filled with inspirational stories from parents, teachers, and homeschoolers, all of which are unique, but convey the same message: we must release our fear that children can't/won't learn math unless it's drilled into them in the "right" order, with the right "curriculum," and embrace exploring math in a totally new way, with the excitement of seeing the beauty in and having FUN with math.*Playing With Math*also provides a number of math problems, activities and games to get you started right away. Want more? There's also an abundance of references to a variety of other inspiring books as resources. One suggestion might be to add an appendix to the book, listing these amazing resources, categorized by age/grade appropriateness.
As
a homeschooling mom, this book gives me the comfort of knowing that I
DO have the freedom to take my time with math, and allow my kids to
learn it at their own pace, and from any level of interest (even if that
means talking infinity with my 9yo!). Even though I've been
homeschooling for a long time now, it does take a while to learn to
trust in your kids' ability to learn, and your ability to teach as a
mentor or guide, not a "teller" or "explainer."

As
a teacher who is not currently in a classroom, but is still tutoring in
math, one quote in particular really struck me, from Maria Droujkova:
"Adults often strive very hard to get rid of any and all possible traces
of confusion for kids, making things dreadfully boring. That prevents
kids from developing problem solving skills and other tools for
mathematical decision-making." I saw myself in this quote, and quite
agree with it. Taking it one step further, I would say that, for myself,
this can be an aspect of teacher ego rearing its head. I feel like, if I
haven't completely, "correctly" explained a concept until the student
confirms they "get" my way, then I haven't really done my job. This puts
the onus and reward on the teacher, when really, the student is the one
doing the learning. The more a student discovers or explores on their
own, the more permanent that learning experience will be. To be fair, as
a tutor, I'm often working within time and goal restraints, usually
within the context of a system that does not allow for math fun and
exploration. (For example, finishing a course so the student can "move
on" or "finish up" high school math, or prepping for the SAT which has so
much at stake for these kids.) Without quite understanding why, I have
been dissatisfied for a while with the limitations of hourly tutoring,
which I think is why I have been pondering the idea of doing Math
Circles. What fun to be able to explore math with students in an open
environment, having no requirements or limitations other than our
interest and potential!

One
final note. This book is all about math, but the fundamental ideas
underpinning it are applicable to learning in any subject, and for
students of all ages. If looked at from this perspective, you can take
away so much more, especially if you are interested in ideas about
learning and education. I hope this book accomplishes all the goals the
authors have for it, and more: to inspire people everywhere to see the
beauty and joy inherent in math and in playing and puzzling with math
ideas by starting their own groups, supplementing their child's
education, or even taking their students'/children's whole math
experience in a completely new direction.

## No comments:

## Post a Comment