It must finally be summer. 8)
How do I know? I just read a book. Yes, cover to cover, and for pleasure.
(For those of you who know me well, this will come as a shock, I know.)
OK. So the fact that it was a MATH book affirms what people have suspected about me, and the reason that I have earned my nickname of Math Chick. The book is called “The Math Instinct – Why you’re a mathematical genius (along with lobsters, birds, cats and dogs)” by Keith Devlin.
Devlin is the National Public Radio’s “Math Guy” and has written several books. This one explores “natural math” – also called nature’s math – the math that has been programmed into us (and into dogs and lobsters, to name a few) through the course of evolution. Then he focuses on humans and their ability to mathematize – our innate capacity to estimate and design computational strategies that work for us. He uses compelling studies done in Brazil to compare street math and school math, and talks about meaning making and the essential role of context in developing mathematical understanding. He explores invented strategies, the problem with math tests, Fibonacci and shopping. He speaks to brain research and the role of first- and second-language in learning the facts.
Right until the last few pages of the last chapter I was grooving right along with him, seeing reasons for classroom experiences I have had, confirming for myself why we need to talk more in math class, celebrating the addition of visualizing, connection-making, mental math and estimation in our new curriculum in BC. The last few pages I will need to reassess though, since they seem at odds with Devlin’s earlier message of “meaning above all is what makes us a mathematical genius”. Guess I’ll just have to re-read. After all, what else have I got to do this summer besides counting the spirals on the pinecones dropping on the deck? (Data to date has been 8, 13, and 21…)
If you get a chance to pick up the book, do.
It’s worth a read.