I had a working man's lunch today, just a sandwich (though it was no ordinary sandwich - a "GodMother" from Bay Cities) at my desk. The upside of eating in front of the computer is that I can catch up on some of the TED Talks that I've tagged for viewing - next on the list was Conrad Wolfram. Wolfram, whose older brother Stephen founded Wolfram Research, runs the European arm of the company that developed the software - Mathematica. Wolfram's presentation last November at TED provided a compelling argument for why we should change our approach to teaching math in schools.

For those of us who have a love/hate relationship with math, especially those on the "hate" end of the spectrum (Yun!), I think you'll find Wolfram's points make good sense. At the heart of his presentation is the idea that schools should focus more teaching the applications for math (ie understanding the practical uses of math in solving real world problems) and less on the longhand mechanics behind mathematical computations. His point: use computers to do what they do best which is to efficiently calculate things while humans can apply the concepts/results in the real world. I hope that this is the direction for math in the future because I think it would make it more interesting and accessible to those who would otherwise be turned off and overwhelmed by having to grind out such things as quadratic equations... — Kevin 



Leave a Reply.