Saturday, April 18, 2009

And 'Rithmetic, by Daniel Greenberg

I love this article, and now I can't find it anywhere on the web. So I've put it on scribd*. (There are permissions at the end for copying it.)

I was inspired to put it online by a discussion on the education blog, about Sudbury schools. Someone asked about math, here's the answer.

Comments, anyone?

*There are permissions at the end for copying it, so I know it's legal. But the folks at Sudbury school aren't comfortable with the fame this piece has gotten. So many people focus on this: "I found a book in our library, perfectly suited to the job at hand. It was a math primer written in 1898." And they want to know what book it was. But the book wasn't the important part of this story. The kids' choice to delve in was what made it work.

I asked for permission to include this piece in my book, and they wouldn't give it. So in the book I explained the important parts of the incident, and included a short quote.


  1. Thanks for sharing this with the online world. I also love this story! I told my husband the story and he (mr. numbers whiz) wasn't surprised either!

  2. That's pretty incredible. I do question, though, how math can truly be learned without any opportunity for deep and meaningful exploration. Is that component covered after arithmetic?

    If we're just considering algorithms, then yes, I do think it takes far longer than necessary for students to reach fluency.

    I've been reading a lot about the Sudbury Valley school lately. The school is within walking distance for me. I really should wander over there one day just to see what's taking place.

  3. Hmm, I'm replying a bit late, but I notice that Colleen asked "Is that component covered after arithmetic?" and I really ought to reply.

    Nothing is "covered" at Sudbury. Kids get lots of "deep and meaningful exploration" by playing and exploring what they're curious about.

    Maria talks about kids needing a math rich environment. Most people don't have that in their lives. I don't have personal experience with Sudbury, so don't know how true that would be there. But if someone has provided games like Set, Blink!, Blokus, Quarto, chess, etc, at Sudbury, and an origami book or two, then I think the kids can take it from there.


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