Originally a 25 page article, Mathematician's Lament was later expanded into a full book. Research mathematician Paul Lockhart makes the case that math is an art form, and that the way we currently study it prevents kids from falling in love with and seeing it through the lens of imagination that the other arts inspire. This is a brilliant mathematician's manifesto for freeing math from the drudgery of traditional teaching.
“If I had to design a mechanism for the express purpose of destroying a child’s natural curiosity and love of pattern-making, I couldn’t possibly do as good a job as is currently being done–I simply wouldn’t have the imagination to come up with the kind of senseless, soul-crushing ideas that constitute contemporary mathematics education.”
“You want to train them to calculate 427 plus 389? It’s just not a question that many eight-year-olds are asking. For that matter, most adults don’t fully understand decimal place-value arithmetic, and you expect third graders to have a clear conception? Or do you not care if that understand it? It is simply too early for that kind of technical training. Of course it can be done, but I think it ultimately does more harm than good. Much better to wait until their own natural curiosity about numbers kicks in.”
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