Education

Math class without hand calculation? Estonia is moving toward it

Posted by: Kate Torgovnick May

Conrad-Wolfram-computer-mathMath class should be fascinating, right? At TED2010, Conrad Wolfram suggests that one reason it often isn’t is hand calculation. Conrad Wolfram: Teaching kids real math with computers Conrad Wolfram: Teaching kids real math with computers Most students spend years in math class learning to work sums by hand that a computer can now do. After all, computers are far better at calculation than human beings will ever be, while people are far better at defining problems and coming up with creative solutions.

Wolfram’s website, ComputerBasedMath.org, supports curriculums that allow teachers to focus on real-world math problems, so students can study concepts rather than calculation. As Wolfram says on the site:

“Rather than topics like solving quadratic equations or factorizing polynomials, Computer-Based Math focuses on using the power of math to solve real-world problems like, ‘Should I insure my mobile?,’ ‘How long will I live?’ or ‘What makes a beautiful shape?'”

This week, Wolfram announced its first test country: Estonia will be using the program to create a new statistics curriculum for students. Pilot testing of the curriculum in 30 classrooms will start in early 2014. From there, they plan to roll it out to all schools shortly after completing testing in September 2014.

Why adopt this program? The country’s Minister of Education and Research, Jaak Aaviksoo, says, “We want to lead the world in rethinking education in the technology-driven world.”