Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Now THAT is the way to learn math

Our daughter is going to a Waldorf School in the East Bay. We heard about Waldorf from a friend of ours who is a teacher, and the more we heard, the more we liked. Ariel is in second grade, and she and we are liking this school and the way it teaches children more and more.

It's based on a very rich philosophy called anthroposophy, which I have barely scratched the surface of understanding. An important principle is that you involve the entire being of the child when teaching them - physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. You don't just sit them at a desk and give them homework and tests. As some examples, they have a movement class every week, and their first exposure to times tables is by doing step dances in a circle, emphasizing the two-beat, the three-beat, the four-beat, etc.

The latest revelation for me was how she is learning her times tables visually, and is getting her first introduction into geometry. Take a look at the beautiful 10-pointed star below that Ariel drew

10 Pointed Star

Note how the circle has the numbers 0 to 9 around it. The way she draws the star is she places her pen at '0', and then says "seven times one is seven" and draws a line to the 7. Then she says "seven times two is fourteen" and draws a line to the 4, and so on. In this way she draws a ten-pointed star, and then she spends time coloring it in to make it beautiful.

In the last week she has done this about six times at home, and this is without having any homework assigned. She just loves to do it.

I find myself really happy for her, and a little bit jealous - I am terrible at math, in part because I struggled with it at school (in particular my times and addition tables) and now I find myself freezing up when trying to do basic math operations. If I had learned math this way, I think I would have loved it...

5 comments:

Eric said...

Fantastic! I love this!

naturenest said...

Yes, this is a wonderful way to acomplish number literacy. It is a language. Waldorf methods do such a great job at introducing children to the beauty of numbers. Every child loves this type of work. It makes you wonder why public schools do not utilize some of these proven methods.

Antony said...

Terrific post, thanks.

Rebecca Zook said...

This is beautiful! Does your daughter also do this with other sets of math facts, or only the 7s? Could you post pictures of the other types of stars, too?

David Van Couvering said...

She did many of the other numbers as well. Sorry, I don't have any pictures of these.

It's pretty simple - draw a circle, and make ten marks on it for each digit. Then start with the first number - say six - and draw a line for the last digit of six times 2 - which would be two. Then six times 3 takes you to 8, and so on...