Fishy Cantalopes

“We only think when confronted with a problem.”

– John Dewey

“Somebody came up to me after a talk I had given, and said, ‘You make mathematics seem like fun.’ I was inspired to reply, ‘If it isn’t fun, why do it?'”

– Ralph P. Boas

If you are like most parents, the direction math education is going seems worrisome, and for good reason. Your kids’ homework is more difficult and confusing than what you remember from your time at school. Everything seems overly complicated. You are probably worried about how effective their math education will really be in preparing them for the real world. To top it off, you hear and read all kinds of bad things about whatever they are calling math education reform this year [1], on the radio and on social media. What can a parent do?

Our purpose is to explain the changes in math education to worried parents.  We looked around and realized that while there is a lot of literature on best practices and teaching, very little of it is intentionally aimed at the parents, who are very much on the front lines of all these changes.  We realized that as a physics-major-turned-programmer and a fifth-grade teacher, together we were in a place where together we could span the gap between real-world applied mathematics and what actually happens in the classroom and at home.  We also realized that the most important parts of our explanations could be done with “basic” arithmetic.  So we decided to volunteer our time and create this website.

We’re still pretty new, so we don’t have much material yet.  However, we do have a FAQ where we give our answers to some very real questions which are really, truly frequently asked.  We also have a couple of articles which discuss the fundamental reasons why things have to change, and hopefully give you a few ideas as to how they can be changed.

Math: A victim of its own success

Heard in the break room one day

[1] We are trying to stay as far away from any specific program as we can.  The trends we are discussing have been happening for a long time, partly because of serious research into math education, partly because computers have changed what skills people really need in today’s world, and partly because numbers have become more and more common in our world.  Math education needs to change to keep up.  The name we call it doesn’t matter much.