# Math isn't hard, it's a language | Randy Palisoc | TEDxManhattanBeach

TLDRRandy Palisoc emphasizes that math, like any language, is a means of communication and essential for understanding the world. He argues against the dehumanized approach to teaching math, which leads to confusion among students. By treating math as a language and using real-world analogies, Palisoc demonstrates that even young children can grasp complex concepts like fractions and algebra. His teaching philosophy aims to make math intuitive and accessible, urging educators to humanize the subject to improve proficiency rates and empower students to apply mathematical thinking in real-life situations.

### Takeaways

- π Only 26% of U.S. 12th graders are proficient in Math, indicating a need for improvement in education.
- π§ The belief that only a certain percentage of people are 'hardwired' for Math is a myth; all kids can understand it with the right approach.
- π Math is a human language, similar to English or Spanish, used for communication and essential tasks since ancient times.
- πΏ Historically, Math was necessary for trade, building, and land measurement, showing its practical roots in human activities.
- π The current teaching methods have dehumanized Math, making it abstract and confusing for students.
- π Teaching Math as a language can make it intuitive; for example, using 'apples + apples' to teach addition of fractions.
- π Even young children can understand complex Math concepts when taught using relatable language and analogies.
- π Mastery of basic Math facts, like multiplication tables, is crucial for building confidence and fluency in higher Math.
- π€― A lack of basic Math skills can lead to frustration and a lack of self-confidence, impacting a student's overall academic performance.
- π Language-based teaching methods can unlock understanding and make Math a tool for problem-solving rather than a source of anxiety.
- π The speaker challenges the audience to improve Math proficiency rates, emphasizing the importance of Math in shaping the future.

### Q & A

### What percentage of U.S. 12th graders are proficient in Math according to the national report card mentioned in the script?

-26% of U.S. 12th graders are proficient in Math.

### What does the speaker suggest is the main reason for kids' confusion with Math?

-The speaker suggests that kids are confused by Math because it has been taught as a dehumanized subject rather than a human language.

### Why does the speaker compare Math to a human language?

-The speaker compares Math to a human language because it allows people to communicate with each other, just like English, Spanish, or Chinese, and was used in ancient times for trade, building, and farming.

### What philosopher is quoted in the script to support the idea that Math is a language?

-Galileo is quoted in the script, stating that 'The laws of nature are written in the language of mathematics.'

### How does the speaker propose to make fractions more understandable to kids?

-The speaker proposes using a language approach to teach fractions, starting with simple examples like apples + apples and including words in the mathematical expressions to make them more relatable.

### What example does the speaker give to demonstrate that even a kindergartener can understand fractions?

-The speaker uses the example of asking a 5-year-old niece what 4 billion plus 1 billion is and having her correctly answer '5 billion' without knowing about numerators and denominators.

### How did the speaker's 5-year-old niece understand the concept of adding one third plus one third?

-The niece understood the concept by using the analogy of 1 apple + 1 apple, which helped her to intuitively know that one third plus one third equals two thirds.

### What high-school algebra question did the speaker's 5-year-old niece answer correctly?

-The 5-year-old niece correctly answered the question 'What's 7 xΒ² plus 2 xΒ²?' with '9 xΒ².'

### What issue did the high-school student the speaker worked with have with Math, and how was it resolved?

-The high-school student struggled with algebra because she only knew 44% of her multiplication facts. The issue was resolved by systematically learning her times tables, which improved her confidence and problem-solving abilities in Math.

### What challenge does the speaker issue to the audience regarding the proficiency rate of Math in the U.S.?

-The speaker challenges the audience to push the proficiency rate higher than the current 26%, emphasizing the importance of teaching Math as a human language to enhance understanding and problem-solving skills.

### Outlines

### π Making Math Human Again

The speaker, Radu Chirila, addresses the low proficiency rate of 12th graders in Math and challenges the notion that only 26% of people are naturally inclined towards Math. He argues that the issue lies in the way Math is taught, as a dehumanized subject rather than a language that facilitates communication. Drawing parallels to how languages are used in everyday life, he emphasizes the historical importance of Math in trade, construction, and agriculture. The speaker critiques the abstract and confusing way Math is presented in educational standards, using the example of fractions, and advocates for a more relatable, language-based approach to teaching Math to make it intuitive and understandable for students.

### π The Language of Math in Education

Radu Chirila continues his discourse on the human aspect of Math by sharing practical teaching methods that make use of everyday language to simplify complex concepts. He demonstrates this with the example of adding fractions using apples and pencils, illustrating how including words in mathematical expressions can make a significant difference in understanding. The speaker recounts a personal anecdote involving his 5-year-old niece, who was able to add large numbers and fractions by using simple analogies, proving that Math can be intuitive even for young children. He concludes by emphasizing the importance of teaching Math as a language to ensure that all students, not just those perceived as 'hardwired' for Math, can grasp its concepts and apply them in real-life situations.

### Mindmap

### Keywords

### π‘Math

### π‘Proficient

### π‘Dehumanized

### π‘Fractions

### π‘Algebra

### π‘Language Approach

### π‘Multiplication Facts

### π‘Abstract

### π‘Numerators and Denominators

### π‘Problem Solving

### Highlights

Only 26% of U.S. 12th graders are proficient in Math, which is a call for improvement.

The speaker argues that the low proficiency is not due to only 26% being hardwired for Math.

Math is presented as a human language, similar to English or Spanish, used for communication.

Ancient people used Math for trade, building, and farming, emphasizing its practical origins.

Galileo's quote is used to support the idea that Math is a language of nature.

The current teaching methods have abstracted Math, leading to student confusion.

An example of a 3rd-grade Math Standard is given to illustrate the complexity for young learners.

The importance of understanding fractions for future Math subjects is emphasized.

A method of teaching fractions using the 'apples + apples' analogy is introduced.

The speaker's niece demonstrates understanding of addition with large numbers and fractions.

A kindergartener's ability to add fractions without formal Math knowledge is showcased.

The concept of Math as a language makes it intuitive for children to grasp complex ideas.

The speaker refutes the idea that people are either hardwired for Math or not.

A high-school student's struggle with algebra due to poor multiplication knowledge is discussed.

The student's improvement in Math and self-confidence after mastering multiplication facts.

The importance of Math for problem-solving and responsible decision-making is highlighted.

The speaker challenges the audience to increase Math proficiency beyond the current 26%.

The final message is that teaching Math as a human language can lead to higher proficiency rates.

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