Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Raising Creative Critical Thinkers: Teaching Homeschool Math
Dan Meyer is a public school math teacher that has started a a global revolution in how we teach math. Teachers and students from all over the world are creating, sharing, and improving videos they create and changing math class for the better with cheap, simple tools most of us have at home.
Mr. Meyer asked, "How can we design the most ideal learning experience for students?" The answer came with a few experiments he video taped and uploaded to YouTube. Soon other teachers were sending him their hands on math videos and improving upon his work. Their students were excited and engaged and learned how to formulate the steps involved in solving problems rather than memorizing an abstract formula that was handed to them. Students that had never paid much attention were suddenly active participants. So what is the difference between Mr. Meyer's approach and the educational community at large?
He realized that children are born scientists. They use all of their senses to explore the world and learn naturally through trial and error. So why are we, as a society, doing all we can to destroy every ounce of curiosity, natural learning skills, and creative problem solving in our children? The great thing about homeschooling is that we can reverse this trend and raise lifelong learners who know how to find answers themselves and think about alternative, more efficient solutions.
When you give a child a solution and then teach them how you arrived at that conclusion, they simply imitate you and don't think about more efficient or effective solutions. There is no critical thinking or creativity taking place, which means less learning is happening and the information won't be retained as well.
Thanks to Ingi for the following link who shared an article in the comments from yesterday's post, Let Your Kids Fail.
Scientific American, The Educational Value of Creative Disobedience inspired this post and explores the idea behind letting your child figure out solutions rather than giving them the answer and asking them to work backwards or imitate your way of getting there. When you ask your child questions and discuss a concept before letting your child work through it, the amount of learning, creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving increases exponentially!
We need to stop teaching to the test and start inspiring a love of learning. We need to encourage kids who think a little differently to get excited about the process and share those unique ideas so everyone benefits. When children are encouraged to question, explore, and experiment they will stay far ahead of the "CORE Curriculum Standards" and the knowledge and skill sets they gain will be with them for a lifetime.
If you want to use Mr. Meyers math videos and find out more about teaching math without boredom and tears, check out his his Blog. For an interesting paradigm shift in how we teach math, take a look at this Statistical Approach which can also help kids become smarter consumers and weigh risk and reward in a more logical manner.
Short math video on the way we should be introducing math with real life application rather than abstract theories that most children think they will never use.
Finally, head over to Edutopia to see a more holistic approach to learning. Project Based Learning is something you can do at home with one child, in your homeschool co-op, or in a traditional classroom. It will inspire all sorts of homeschooling ideas that lead to real learning!
In my experience, if you are homeschooling with ADHD or Autism, these approaches will open an entire world of learning without so many fights or frustration. Let your child's interests and learning style lead the way and build some Project Based Learning around whatever it is they love. Let them create videos to explore concepts, be patient while they discover different ways of finding the answers, and learn to switch activities and use a variety of approaches to keep short attention spans interested!