[Squeakland] Panel discussion: Can the American Mind be Opened?

Blake blake at kingdomrpg.com
Sat Nov 24 18:57:11 PST 2007

On Sat, 24 Nov 2007 06:31:15 -0800, Alan Kay <alan.kay at vpri.org> wrote:

> Hi David --
> Of course, I was referring to elementary school new math in the US,  
> which tried to teach arithmetic via set theory and polynomial bases for  
> different numeral systems. It would not be at all surprising if the SMP  
> were better.
> The point is not about the worth of set theory and number theory (both  
> good topics for high school) but about whether they are appropriate for  
> younger children. I have degrees in both pure math and molecular  
> biology, and I agree very strongly with Papert's view that various kinds  
> of geometrical thinking, especially incremental, are better set up for  
> children's minds, and also allow deeper mathematical thinking to be  
> started much earlier in life.

Random data point: I had "new math", though in the 10-12 years age group.

I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who got it and I am, admittedly,  
something of an outlier. (I immediately started working through different  
bases, including base 11, which made hex and binary easier the following  
years when I started programming.)

I haven't been able to teach it to a younger kid, unless that kid has  
"instant" math, in which case it's not really teaching so much as a brief  

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