If you wander around the internet trying to find out more about how children learn (or don’t learn) maths you’re sure to come across Maria Droujkova‘s video “5 Year Olds Can Learn Calculus”.
- Her explanation at the beginning of the video about the impact of painful maths experiences in primary school. It’s true – not for all children of course, but for some.
- The rich, imaginative activities through which she invites children to experience scale, patterns, limits, infinity.
- The excellent Natural Math website (which she co-founded with Yelena McManaman) and its resources for parents and teachers. Much of it is really aimed at parents exploring maths at home with their children. If you have someone aged under 12 at home, seriously check this out.
- Her comment to me, on offering maths lessons: “Ask the children what they want to do, they will tell you.” They really do.
I have decided that one of my criteria for “Maths Heroes” is that they share a lot for free and are not trying to make a huge buck out of what they have developed (as almost everyone else on the web seems to be doing). Everything on Natural Math is free or reasonably priced or ‘pay what you want to’.
Right now, there is a special of $25 for 5 e-books full of amazing activities and understanding.
You know when you think you have a great idea… and then you check the internet and naturally other people have had it too 🙂 You feel less unique and then delighted to be part of a community. Even better, some people have already tried, tested and refined various aspects of the same general thing you had in mind.
Well, when I started to look on the web for people teaching maths in ways I think work best, I came across a couple of brilliant mentors. The best part is that they have not all gone and structured what they have to share as money-making e-courses and webinars and you-know-what, but are clearly dedicated to getting good ideas out there, for little or no money – for the sake of improving maths education for children. Hence the term “Heroes”.
First one I’d like to share is a remarkable gentleman called Alan Grihault.
Claim to Fame: The remarkable Maths Alive website which offers a full curriculum of primary maths activities for children to try on their own, or with the help of parents. Hands-on, fun, creative, interactive, with room to explore… and best of all these are tried and tested, based on his years of experience as a primary school teacher (UK) and then teacher trainer (southern Africa).
Then there is also his excellent resource for primary maths teachers, and his remarkble life story. Right now he is about 80 years old, and when I emailed him he was about to set off on a morning run with the Mauritius Hash House Harriers. He is ‘retired’ in Mauritius but keeps busy writing books on dodos and pirates, telling stories and sharing his maths teaching ideas.
Previously he has:
- Been born in Devon, England
- Taught primary mathematics there, then trained teachers
- Met his wife in Mauritius
- Had and raised 4 children with her, while
- Training maths teachers all over southern Africa
- and in sem-retirement, making radio and TV programmes, writing books and publishing websites.
If you are a parent or teacher, please DO try some of his activities and, yes, a number of them are incorporated in Fun Maths lessons.