The Gift Of Multiplication

Nov 1, 2013

Seattle educator Dan Finkel says grown-ups often forget that math is not exotic to kids; it’s very close to them.

For example, Finkel recently taught a class kindergarteners and first graders, and he said to them, “You know what, let’s just count stuff today.” Immediately, the kids pointed to the windows and ceiling tiles and more. He told everyone to pick something and tell him how many there were. They dove right in.

One boy counted hundreds of little holes in the radiator. In doing so, the boy noticed that the holes were always in groups of nine. Maybe he could count them faster if he just counted how many groups of nine there were. This was the beginning of multiplication — the beginning of mathematics — and it didn’t require any thorny lectures or worksheets.

“You don’t need to start by saying, I’m going to teach you something really important today,” Finkel said.

Finkel runs a program called Math For Love. Listen to his full interview with KUOW host Bill Radke.