Survival of the Fit: Communicating with our future mathematicians

Nathalie Sinclair

We often take a rather formalist approach to mathematics communication in education, one that stresses operations, syntax, and form. Not only does this impede mathematical understanding, the putative goal of communication, it provides students with little insight into the way that mathematics is constructed, forms our thinking and shapes the world we live in.

Children, like mathematicians, search for patterns, try to find ways to make things "fit." These ways will surely involve their visual, spatial, kinesthetic, and intuitive facilities, as well as their logical symbolic ones. As educators, we need to harness the tools and languages that will help children use these facilities to become not only consumers but creators of mathematics.

I will discuss the contributions that new technologies (the Internet, dynamic geometry software, Javabeans) can make in: --helping students gain a better and deeper understanding of the traditional mathematics curriculum; --opening the door to more sophisticated mathematics; and, --helping students to make judgments about what is valuable, relevant and beautiful in mathematics.

Materials from this presentation

created Tue Dec 7 11:20:39 PST 1999