Often when I (or other unschoolers) speak about natural learning, I’m asked how on earth will children learn maths naturally? (let alone like it!)
Excuse me while I get a little snarky, but the idea that kids won’t be able to learn maths in ‘the real world’ really makes me laugh!
If ONLY we lived in a society where mathematics was ingrained into countless facets of our lives!
If only we lived in a society where time was expressed numerically.
Oh if we just had perhaps a chart or series of pages showing the days, weeks, and months of a particular year, or giving particular seasonal information that we followed and it helped us learn the patterns that guided our lives.
If only humans had formulated well known concepts of measurement for volume and temperature and weight.
Imagine if we bartered goods and services with some type of mathematical currency! We could perhaps learn while shopping, and regularly experience percentages and fractions.
Maybe naturally learning maths would be easier if we just had thousands of examples of geometry, patterns and symmetry throughout nature, man-made structures and life itself.
“Everything I am interested in, from cooking to electronics, is related to math. In real life you don’t have to worry about integrating math into other subjects. In real life, math already is integrated into everything else.” – Anna Hoffstrom
With regards to how they will enjoy it – I think a big issue with mathematics is that so many of us ‘schooled’ adults only know maths as it was taught to us in schools. And boy was it boring for the majority! School mostly presents maths as two dimensional on sheets of paper. Maths is too often delivered in context-less way without meaning and as a chore. So it’s no surprise that as parents we then come to think that our kids too will likely not enjoy it. But it needn’t be that way!
Children learn maths because it helps them make sense of the world. Like they learn to speak their language and seek out information about all that surrounds them. Naturally learning maths IS admittedly so different to what we have grown to see maths as. But it’s meaningful, it has valuable context and it is necessary and helpful to their lives.
Thank you for reading!
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Katherine Norman says
One of the main problems with maths in schools is that it taught before children have had enough opportunity to actually experience maths.
Maths is learnt naturally as we observe the world and spot patterns – as humans we instinctively look for patterns all the time.
Learning something for oneself is far more powerful – it creates conceptual understanding, and powerful sense of accomplishment, but it doesn’t work if someone tries to teach that same concept, out of context before a child has grasped the underlying understanding.
It becomes rote learning , with no understanding, and that is when children (and adults) struggle with maths – when they trying to do something without having first experienced the maths for themselves.
There’s so much simplicity in this. Often the school system just complicates learning, like they want it to be stressful.
yes yes yes! love this
And then you end up with your unschooled teenager excitedly hoping they get that calculus book they asked for for Christmas!