GeekSpeak for 2004-10-22

Geek Math

Algebra, Trigonometry, Geometry, Chaos theory… have you tuned out yet? Mathematics is a lot more fun then you might think.
Ralph Abraham has been teaching math for decades and has a passion for Mathematics that is contagious.


Photo of Professor of Mathematics, Ralph Abraham
Ralph is a professor of mathematics and chaos theorist at the University of California at Santa Cruz.
His interests invove math education, math post computers (Geek Math) and is the founder of the
Santa Cruz based Visual Math Institute.
Ralph is prolific in producing content for his www.ralph-abraham.org website.

The majority of the population doesn’t share Ralph’s love for mathematics. Why is this? Dr. Abraham explains that the problem lays in the way mathematics is taught in elementry, middle and high school. The different branches of mathematics are taught in the wrong order. He suggests that if students learnd mathematics in historical contects and order people would not produce the deep hatered of mathematics that most feel.

Teachers of different curriculums are now working on fixing this. They are working in teams, putting together lesson plans that work together but that can be used jointly. The idea is, if students are learning about Babylonians in fifth grade, they should also be learning Babylonian and Egyptian math, which happens to be arithmetic. When put in historical perspective, mathematics becomes easier to learn and remember. Dr. Abraham cites the Ross School as an example of how classes could be taught. Their mission is is to change the way education meets the future; to foster interdisciplinary, integrated thinking and innovative leadership; to engage fully in the global community; and to facilitate lifelong learning. Their aim is to help students understand their needs and responsibilities in this place and time, relative to the past, in order to prepare for and embrace the future.

After the show Professor Abraham mentioned that exciting things are happing in home-school programs. Home school programs involve the learning of the parents along with the children. Maybe parents will be more open to teaching in historical contenxt.

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