## “How do you excite 8 yr olds about mathematics?”

Posted on the Home-ed List by Sarah Fitz-Claridge

on 18 Dec., 1996, at 9:28 a.m.

Does anyone else find all this stuff about getting children to
memorise maths facts and do tests deeply depressing? It is all so
unnecessary, and it seems so sad that even home educated children
cannot escape the destructive effects of well-meaning educational
manipulators.

You shouldn't *be* trying to get a child to “do” maths.
If the child isn't interested, find out what the child *is*
interested in, and help him to pursue that instead.

The reason mathematics is such a big problem is precisely because of
the horrendous educational coercion and manipulation with which it
is associated. It is not surprising that parents have difficulty
getting their children to do maths, because the parents themselves
shudder at the thought of it.

The way I got over my school-induced mathematics phobia was by
spending time conversing with people who are passionate about
mathematical ideas, and who told me with shining eyes about the
latest mathematical discoveries. To start with, we kept well away
from bits of maths that are taught in school, and thus avoided
invoking the

**Maths Alarm! Warning! Mind will shut
down in ten seconds!**

But getting over Education-induced mathematics phobia is by no means
easy, so why not do something unusually positive and *don't give
your child a phobia in the first place!* It is easy: just *forget
about “teaching” the child maths.* That way, the child
may not be too damaged to become interested and to pursue maths in
years to come. *First do no harm.*

A home-educated friend of mine whose education was entirely autonomous and
largely autodidactic and who certainly wasn't “taught” maths,
*did* become excited about maths, and chose to go to college to
study maths. He was younger than his classmates by several years, and he
found it amazing that his classmates seemed to have so much difficulty with
the courses. As a child, he used to talk to his father about maths (amongst
other things) over a pint of beer in the local pub. His father was
*not* “trying to excite his interest in maths” or
“teach” him. My friend attributes his interest and creativity
in this area to the very fact that he did not have parents bent on
educating him.

Copyright © 1996, 2003 Taking Children Seriously

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