Mathematics for Children

This has been a big week of learning; learning to know new people, learning to know more about my work, more about the community of research, and more about myself. I will start with the latter. I tend to believe that I have a steady stream of curiosity. Every kid loves to ask “why?” and, while that might be exhausting to parents, it is what I love about children. It is also what we (adults) tend to “cure” children of all to quickly.

I have been cured of some of my incessant questioning, but not all of it. Curiosity is what drove me into the study of mathematics, the study of scripture, and the field of education. It led me toward a stint as a high school Academic Decathlon coach, to a job teaching at a community college, a doctoral degree, and to my current position as a Senior Researcher at AIMS. This week is drove me into conversations with new people, conference sessions, and times of reflection.

friesen11_30I spent 4 days this month in Tucson, Arizona at the Psychology of Mathematics Education – North America conference. It was a treat to travel with colleagues Richard Thiessen and Paul Reimer. We connected with math and math education researchers whose work we have been reading at the Center and with whom we have been able to engage about the work. I was challenged to think more about the kinds of mathematical activity that children might be involved in and captivated by. And, I was constantly reminded that the most equitable way that we can participate in the education of children is to be curious about what draws them in, how they perceive a given situation, and what plan is viable to them. It is only when we listen to the mathematics of the student that we can make any mathematical plans for the student.

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