5-Year-Olds Can Learn Calculus

Luba Vangelova, The Atlantic, Feb 03, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I was drawn to this item via the long Reddit thread on the article, which is worth a read in its own right. The proposition is that we are teaching math in the wrong order, that we should begin with things like calculus. The existing progression from numbers to equations to calculus "has nothing to do with how people think, how children grow and learn, or how mathematics is built," according to interviewee Maria Droujkova (who posted about the Reddit thread on her Facebook page). "Far better," says Droujkova, "to start by creating rich and social mathematical experiences that are complex (allowing them to be taken in many different directions) yet easy (making them conducive to immediate play)." I am inclined to agree, and this argument accords with my oft-stated contention that the selection of certain topics as 'foundational' is arbitrary and misguided.

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