|Photo: Andy Kiersz|
And it is a disaster that it isn't taught this way to students."
"A Mathematician's Lament" is a classic polemic (later expanded and published as a book) written by math teacher Paul Lockhart. The essay is a devastating and passionate assault on the mechanistic way mathematics is taught in most of our schools.
A Student's NightmareLockhart begins with a vivid parable in which a musician has a nightmare in which music is taught to children by rote memorization of sheet music and formal rules for manipulating notes. In the nightmare, students never actually listen to music, at least not until advanced college classes or graduate school.
The problem is that this abstract memorization and formal-method-based "music" education closely resembles the "math" education that most students receive. Formulas and algorithms are delivered with no context or motivation, with students made to simply memorize and apply them.
Part of why many students end up disliking math, or convincing themselves that they are bad at math, comes from this emphasis on formulas and notation and methods at the expense of actually deep understanding of the naturally fascinating things mathematicians explore. It's understandable that many students (and adults) get frustrated at memorizing context-free strings of symbols and methods to manipulate them.
This goes against what math is really about. The essence of mathematics is recognizing interesting patterns in interesting abstractions of reality and finding properties of those patterns and abstractions. This is inherently a much more creative field than the dry symbol manipulation taught conventionally.
Source: Business Insider