Is Math in the 3 Categories of Learning?

Our world is struggling with education of all sorts. We know that STEM fields are in trouble. Not enough people are excited about taking the science and math classes needed to jump into them.

But there’s another piece of the education puzzle that’s missing – writing.

I talked to a primary school teacher at a social function today. She was telling me how students these days were often taught the algorithms of writing. One of which is the classic intro-supporting paragraphs-conclusion that I remember.

I said, “Oh, so they don’t get taught to write in their own voice, and stuff like that?”

“That’s just it,” she said. “They naturally write in their voice. But with the systematic methods we push on them it destroys it!”

That sounds familiar!

It pulled on my heartstrings – there was another basic subject that was competing with the almighty and all-powerful queen of subjects – reading.

Seems writing has the same challenges as math – people think there’s a formula to it when really it’s about voice, personal preference, beauty and art.

And writing, like math, is something people always do when they have to but rarely do just for fun.

What do we learn – really?

It made me really think about learning and teaching. All learning can be boiled down into one of three categories:

  1. Learning information (historical facts, spelling, times tables)
  2. Learning how to get information (reading, researching, googling)
  3. Learning how to give information (writing, speaking)

Reading clearly has its place in #2, as does writing in #3.

But where is math?

When you teach math, are you only teaching facts (like in #1)? Or are you teaching children how to get or discover information (#2)? Or are you teaching them how to give or share information (#3)?

I’ll leave my answers for next time. Until then – what do you teach?

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