It has long been the assumption that students need to learn the building blocks of math before they can solve more complicated problems. Some educators are beginning to question that assumption, saying that it may be responsible for turning many students off math at an early age. In an article written for the Atlantic, MindShift contributor Luba Vangelova writes about a different approach to math education that focuses on the patterns and structures of mathematics, as opposed to computations.

“‘Calculations kids are forced to do are often so developmentally inappropriate, the experience amounts to torture, she says. They also miss the essential point—that mathematics is fundamentally about patterns and structures, rather than ‘little manipulations of numbers,’ as she puts it. It’s akin to budding filmmakers learning first about costumes, lighting and other technical aspects, rather than about crafting meaningful stories.”

5-Year-Olds Can Learn CalculusThe familiar, hierarchical sequence of math instruction starts with counting, followed by addition and subtraction, then multiplication and division. The computational set expands to include bigger and bigger numbers, and at some point, fractions enter the picture, too. Then in early adolescence, students are introduced to patterns of numbers and letters, in the entirely new subject of algebra.

## Author

### Katrina Schwartz

Katrina Schwartz is a journalist based in San Francisco. She's worked at KPCC public radio in LA and has reported on air and online for KQED since 2010. She's a staff writer for KQED's education blog MindShift.

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