A lesson from the toybox: How children build abstract concepts
Concepts

A lesson from the toybox: How children build abstract concepts

Contributed by David Barner (with Katherine Wagner & Katharine Tillman) Humans can think and talk about many things that we can’t directly see or touch. Neutrinos. Infinity. Justice. The nature of time. But humans are not natural-born physicists or mathematicians. Somehow, we learn these abstract concepts. But how could we learn about things that we … Continue reading

Can we improve math education with a 5000 year old technology?
Math Education / Number

Can we improve math education with a 5000 year old technology?

Contributed by Mike Frank & David Barner (see this post also on Babies Learning Language). The first calculating machines invented by humans – stone tablets with grooves that contained counting stones or “calculi”  – are no match for contemporary computers in terms of computational power. But they and their descendants, in the form of the modern Soroban abacus, may have … Continue reading

Why is learning to count so hard?
Math Education / Number

Why is learning to count so hard?

Contributed by David Barner The origins of human mathematical practices extend back in history to the earliest moments of human culture. Early cuneiform writing systems not only arose in large part for the purposes of accounting and trade, but the presence of numerical symbols in these systems has sometimes been the wedge that allowed historians to crack their … Continue reading