Monday, December 3, 2012

Conrad Wolfram: Teaching kids real math with computers

I just watched an interesting TED video concerning Conrad Wolfram's thoughts on mathematics education (Wolfram runs the worldwide arm of Wolfram Research, the mathematical lab behind the cutting-edge knowledge engine Wolfram Alpha).

I believe his thoughts are especially important to career and technical education (CTE) as he poses the question, "What is math?" Wolfram believes there is a four-part answer to this question:
  1. Posing the right question
  2. Real world math formulation
  3. Computation
  4. Math formulation real world, verification
Wolfram believes the third step should be done, in most instances, by computer, but we spend 80% of math education on this third step when computers can do it better and with fewer errors. His reasoning is that we should stop teaching calculating and start teaching math and education should focus more on the other three steps. He continues to state that math is greater than just calculating and calculating is simply the machinery of math. As you noticed, "real world" application is important to his definition and that is what CTE does so well with math education.

Please watch the video below or by clicking HERE and listen to Wolfram's thoughts on why math has never been more important in human history and why we must change the way we educate our students.

For what its worth, I agree with what he is saying in many instances, but a part of me still believes you must know the theory behind the computation or am I still missing something?

Please read our previous post on Wolfram Alpha: Wolfram Alpha - A Computational Knowledge Engine

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