www.ted.com From rockets to stock markets, math powers many of humanity’s most thrilling creations. So why do kids lose interest? Conrad Wolfram says the part of math we teach — calculation by hand — isn’t just tedious, it’s mostly irrelevant to real mathematics and the real world. He presents his radical idea teaching kids math through computer programming.TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes. Featured speakers have included Al Gore on climate change, Philippe Starck on design, Jill Bolte Taylor on observing her own stroke, Nicholas Negroponte on One Laptop per Child, Jane Goodall on chimpanzees, Bill Gates on malaria and mosquitoes, Pattie Maes on the “Sixth Sense” wearable tech, and “Lost” producer JJ Abrams on the allure of mystery. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, and TEDTalks cover these topics as well as science, business, development and the arts. Closed captions and translated subtitles in a variety of languages are now available on TED.com, at www.ted.com Watch a highlight reel of the Top 10 TEDTalks at www.ted.com

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@Phyrexious I completely agree with you. I am pretty good at “math”, in the “school” sense. I can crunch my way through complex equations, differential equations and stuff, yet I couldn’t “use” that skill. As far as 20 minutes ago, I had the concept that “math” was simply a series of calculations, at the end which we get a number or an exact answer. However, as this video explains, math is so much more than just that. Let’s stop teaching “math” as we knew it, and focus on the “real” math!

i think that both of extremes, calculating minds and computing minds.. all of it are right.. just mix the idea of things happen around… math is a human science.. to “understand” process… just mixing technology with our precepton about events can effort science…

I just spent an entire week studying for a Calc exam only to get a 75 on it. This video is so right on. I just “memorized” the formulas, only to forget what the concepts actually were so when I got word problems, I had no idea how to answer them! This inspired me to re-learn math the right way, using the proofs and logic which math is built on. It’s not only about what formula does what, it’s WHY the formula works and what it means!

Did you not watch this video before commenting or something? Real world calculations aren’t done by hand. Practical application is what needs to be taught. That’s what he’s stressing needs to be done, and, more importantly, it works *better* that way.

What’s even better is that I learned to program complex differential equations… the stuff I used for systems biology and the M&S of complex systems. I’ve never solved one by hand, but I can find very accurate solutions to the problems because I understand the practical application and can create a program to solve it. That’s a cool realization, that at least for some classes, this is the way math is being taught.

This is exactly my experience. I went through calc II and linear algebra in college. Calculating eigen values was boring, hard, and I didn’t even really understand what they were for… until I took a computer graphics class which used them in practical demonstration. The math I know the best is geometry and trig because I programmed my TI-83 to do most of the problems for me.

@TORREY333 Fine then. A word of advice in closing. If you are going to try making a pretense of holding the moral high ground with cliche’s like “agree to disagree”, it generally helps your illusion of sincerity if you refrain from blatant insults and tone down your capslock addiction. May ignorance grant you all the bliss in the world.

@AutodidacticPhd My point is SIMPLE. You teach kids the BASICS so their minds will EVOLVE, to UNDERSTAND these ridiculous THEORIES you and Ted are throwing at them. I understand the REAL world because I live in it EVERY DAY. You seem to live in FANTASY LAND. So I say we agree to DISAGREE ðŸ™‚ DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT!!!

…and I have no interest in carrying on a conversation like that. If you actually care about the topic and want to make a point, then go do some research and pull the capslock key out of your keyboard. Otherwise I’m just going to assume that you’re just another troll from now on.

@TORREY333 That can’t be your point. Logic isn’t taught in the current school system that you are so desperate to defend. And the “basics” that you are so in love with aren’t the foundations of math. You simply do not know what you are talking about. You don’t have a grasp of what math is, what it can do, where the current educational model comes from or what the actual nature of the proposal is. You are obviously unequipped to present anything more than a hysterical rant on the topic.

I’m a maths student at University and I wish that I had been a) been forced to learn mental calculation/standard identities while at school and b) not forced to learn arbitrary problem-solving techniques without intuition/generalisation. So I agree with him in general. He has a strange way of pronouncing “computer” considering the rest of his speech is Received Pronunciation English.

@AutodidacticPhd “Logic is a mental tool that was invented, has to be acquired and then used, it is not intrinsic”. This is my WHOLE POINT, it is a learned behavior. So you have to teach kids the “BASICS” to give them a FOUNDATION to build on. 2 + 2 = 4 this is NOT KNOWN right out of the WOMB! This is NOT theory, these are the FACTS!!! So you need to think a little more about your ARGUMENT, before you criticize ME. Fire burns, DO NOT stick your hand in fire. This is called COMMON SENSE ðŸ™‚

@TORREY333 Sorry, but again, you are flat out wrong. Logic is a mental tool that was invented, has to be acquired and then used, it is not intrinsic. And common sense is worse. It consists almost entirely of fossilized illusions based on the limitations of how our brains perceive the world. Frankly, it is you who believe in theories that come from purely academic musings. I study how the brain processes information, and how that can be applied… and that actually is reality.

This is definitely worth spreading

@Phyrexious I completely agree with you. I am pretty good at “math”, in the “school” sense. I can crunch my way through complex equations, differential equations and stuff, yet I couldn’t “use” that skill. As far as 20 minutes ago, I had the concept that “math” was simply a series of calculations, at the end which we get a number or an exact answer. However, as this video explains, math is so much more than just that. Let’s stop teaching “math” as we knew it, and focus on the “real” math!

Math is important.

i’d like this guy to be my math teacher

i think that both of extremes, calculating minds and computing minds.. all of it are right.. just mix the idea of things happen around… math is a human science.. to “understand” process… just mixing technology with our precepton about events can effort science…

I just spent an entire week studying for a Calc exam only to get a 75 on it. This video is so right on. I just “memorized” the formulas, only to forget what the concepts actually were so when I got word problems, I had no idea how to answer them! This inspired me to re-learn math the right way, using the proofs and logic which math is built on. It’s not only about what formula does what, it’s WHY the formula works and what it means!

@eri0219

Did you not watch this video before commenting or something? Real world calculations aren’t done by hand. Practical application is what needs to be taught. That’s what he’s stressing needs to be done, and, more importantly, it works *better* that way.

What’s even better is that I learned to program complex differential equations… the stuff I used for systems biology and the M&S of complex systems. I’ve never solved one by hand, but I can find very accurate solutions to the problems because I understand the practical application and can create a program to solve it. That’s a cool realization, that at least for some classes, this is the way math is being taught.

you don’t need a computer or calculator to learn Math.

This is exactly my experience. I went through calc II and linear algebra in college. Calculating eigen values was boring, hard, and I didn’t even really understand what they were for… until I took a computer graphics class which used them in practical demonstration. The math I know the best is geometry and trig because I programmed my TI-83 to do most of the problems for me.

@TORREY333 Fine then. A word of advice in closing. If you are going to try making a pretense of holding the moral high ground with cliche’s like “agree to disagree”, it generally helps your illusion of sincerity if you refrain from blatant insults and tone down your capslock addiction. May ignorance grant you all the bliss in the world.

@Ruxistico ðŸ™‚ glad to be of help best thing about KA is that its free

@AutodidacticPhd My point is SIMPLE. You teach kids the BASICS so their minds will EVOLVE, to UNDERSTAND these ridiculous THEORIES you and Ted are throwing at them. I understand the REAL world because I live in it EVERY DAY. You seem to live in FANTASY LAND. So I say we agree to DISAGREE ðŸ™‚ DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT!!!

…and I have no interest in carrying on a conversation like that. If you actually care about the topic and want to make a point, then go do some research and pull the capslock key out of your keyboard. Otherwise I’m just going to assume that you’re just another troll from now on.

@TORREY333 That can’t be your point. Logic isn’t taught in the current school system that you are so desperate to defend. And the “basics” that you are so in love with aren’t the foundations of math. You simply do not know what you are talking about. You don’t have a grasp of what math is, what it can do, where the current educational model comes from or what the actual nature of the proposal is. You are obviously unequipped to present anything more than a hysterical rant on the topic.

@kinraade wow that Khan Academy is really cool!

@kinraade Thank you! I will def check that out. Other ideas to ways of learning math is still welcome! ðŸ™‚

I’m a maths student at University and I wish that I had been a) been forced to learn mental calculation/standard identities while at school and b) not forced to learn arbitrary problem-solving techniques without intuition/generalisation. So I agree with him in general. He has a strange way of pronouncing “computer” considering the rest of his speech is Received Pronunciation English.

@Ruxistico you might wanna try khan academy……..hes got a you tube channel and web app with problems

@SkpVwls lol ur still alive aren’t yea? There’s always time to learn.

@AutodidacticPhd “Logic is a mental tool that was invented, has to be acquired and then used, it is not intrinsic”. This is my WHOLE POINT, it is a learned behavior. So you have to teach kids the “BASICS” to give them a FOUNDATION to build on. 2 + 2 = 4 this is NOT KNOWN right out of the WOMB! This is NOT theory, these are the FACTS!!! So you need to think a little more about your ARGUMENT, before you criticize ME. Fire burns, DO NOT stick your hand in fire. This is called COMMON SENSE ðŸ™‚

I’d love to hear what Ken Koedinger and Vincent Aleven have to say about this.

@Ruxistico

I’m a bit in the same boat, would appreciate tips on learning math in a not so boring way, or just some general tips.

@TORREY333 Sorry, but again, you are flat out wrong. Logic is a mental tool that was invented, has to be acquired and then used, it is not intrinsic. And common sense is worse. It consists almost entirely of fossilized illusions based on the limitations of how our brains perceive the world. Frankly, it is you who believe in theories that come from purely academic musings. I study how the brain processes information, and how that can be applied… and that actually is reality.

The first step is to allow calculators on SAT, GRE, LSAT or GMAT.