Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Why won't they listen to Maria Montessori?

U.S. students fare badly in math because we do a terrible job of teaching math in this country. It's still taught pretty much the way it was when I didn't learn it in school: by brute force memorization (aided by lots of repetition). It works for people who have a knack for the subject, but leaves many of us panting in the dirt. Maria Montessori had the unusual gift of visualizing abstract mathematical concepts. Her "manipulables" (as they're termed in the public school system) are marvelous examples of abstract reasoning made concrete. No wonder Montessori students, by the time they're nine or ten, completely understand the binomial theorem, among other higher math concepts. As far as I can tell, "manipulables" in public schools pretty much consist of cute teddy bears for kindergartners to count, so that the poor dears don't have to rely on their fingers. The New York Times > National > U.S. Students Fare Badly in International Survey of Math Skills