Math: It’s Not About The Curriculum

If you don't consider yourself a math person, teaching this subject to your children can feel daunting. Amy and Leah dig into Charlotte Mason's principles for teaching math, and how to teach it in a living, meaningful way.

"Never are the operations of Reason more delightful and more perfect than in mathematics. Here men do not begin to reason with a notion which causes them to lean to this side or to that. By degrees, absolute truth unfolds itself. We are so made that truth, absolute and certain truth, is a perfect joy to us; and that is the joy that mathematics afford. " Ourselves

(1:00) Amy is a "math person" with a Bachelor's degree in math, but generally people love math or hate it. Why is math so polarizing? 

(1:58) Negative attitudes about math typical derive from parents and teachers. There's a math stigma going on! 

(2:45) Math is not a living-book subject. 

(3:13) Why did Charlotte Mason think it was important to study math? 

(4:15) We don't study math for utilitaritian reasons: we study math because it's beautiful and true. 

(6:28) Mathematics depend upon the teacher, and not the curriculum. 

(7:35) What makes math different? Why do we not use living books? 

(8:35) Math is the study of patterns. We learn patterns of number and patterns of shape, statistics, probability... When we're preparing for a lesson, we can say, "What's the pattern, rule, and truth that we want our child to be in touch with?" 

(11:34) Real world examples: The number 5 can be broken down in many different ways. 1+1+1+1+1=5, or 2+3=5. Or, it doesn't matter in what order you put the numbers in addition, it will always have the same value. Whole numbers can be broken down into smaller units, fractions even!

(13:22) Teachers need to be able to take the time to pull out those "captain ideas" of math. How do we plan? Buy the teacher's guide! 

(15:10) Using the teacher's guide is the equivalent of pre-reading. 

(16:50) Finding just-right math problems. 

(18:35) Growth mindset is so important! We can push through and feel victorious when we do something that's a little bit hard. 

(19:05) Children can prove math to themselves with manipulatives. "Demonstrate everything demonstrable." 

(20:00) In math, you'll find yourself at a disadvantage if you understand the process without understanding the principles behind it. 

(24:00) It's so important to start with the concrete. The symbols are just convention. 

(24:55) "The teacher must be content to go slowly." Home Education

(31:15) Can we derive a math curriculum from Charlotte Mason's writing? 

Show notes

Home Education (available to read online from Ambleside Online) 

Ourselves (Ambleside Online) 

MEP Math

Singapore Math- Primary Mathematics

"Therefore his progress must be carefully graduated, but there is no subject in which the teacher has a more delightful consciousness of drawing out from day to day new power in the child. Do not offer him a crutch; it is in his own power he must go." Home Education, page 261

"Mathematics depend upon the teacher rather than upon the text-book and few subjects are worse taught; chiefly because teachers have seldom time to give the inspiring ideas, what Coleridge calls, the 'Captain' ideas, which should quicken imagination" Towards a Philosophy of Education, page 233. 

2 thoughts on “Math: It’s Not About The Curriculum”

  1. Thanks for sharing your article. Mathematics may not teach us to add love or subtract hate, but it gives us hope that every problem has a solution.

  2. Pingback: How To Teach Math When You Think You’re Bad At It - My Little Robins

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