Playing with Math
Originally posted on Cooperative Catalyst:
This post was first posted on my personal blog as Visualizing Math. Thanks to David Wees (who has retweeted it) and David Loitz for the push to put it here as well.
I love math. Am I an expert at it? No. Do I make mistakes as I teach it? Probably–but I work hard not to, unless I am doing so deliberately for kids to figure something out. Here’s how I got to be a math loving female….
My family played both card games and board games as I grew up. Every year at Christmas, we spent the afternoon setting up and playing all the new board games Santa had brought. We had shelves and a cabinet that was full–Candyland, Parcheesi, Monopoly, Scrabble….games at various levels, for the 6 siblings (and friends) whose ages ranged over 17 years. I spent most Sunday afternoons playing Scrabble with my Mom–with a dictionary between us, not following the time rules, but instead challenging ourselves to find the very best word we could. Our games took hours–because we’d scour the dictionary, looking for that word that gave the most points and used the most letter tiles. When my grandmother came each summer to spend two weeks with us, the card game Canasta took over our evenings–and those of us too young to be in the four or six playing hung around and apprenticed ourselves to one of the players so we could learn how to play, hoping we’d get to play the next game. I was amazed at how my Dad could shuffle so many cards at once (the game calls for 4 or 6 decks, depending on how many are playing),and I also got good, as I got older and got to play, at explaining my strategy to a younger sib watching while not giving it away to my opponents. For us, games weren’t about competition–I can’t even remember who usually won the Scrabble games–they were about learning. We learned by watching “experts” and having strategies explained to us in the moment, when it mattered.