Math Clubs, Math Circles, and the Richmond Math Salon

party-child-by-jaaron

Photo by jaaron via flickr.

If you’ve been thinking of starting a math club, here’s a good model:

People have this notion that math is about getting a right answer, and the testing really emphasizes that notion. And that’s such a bad way to approach math because it makes it scary.

When you look at little kids, they pose their own questions. They say, “Ooooh, what’s bigger than a million?” And they think about things their own way. At school, the teacher poses the questions, and the students answer their questions. Schooling is not a natural environment for learning.

— Sue VanHattum, Math Mama Writes
Richmond Math Salon: A Sweet Sampling

Resources

Need ideas and activities to get your math group up and running? Check out some online inspiration:

  • Natural Math
    I have no idea how to characterize this wonderful site. Explore — you’re sure to be inspired!
  • MathCounts Club Program
    For middle school students, grades 6-8. I enjoy these problems, but they’re too “schooly” for my current crop of students.
Well organized series of puzzles for high school.
  • Math Circles: Getting Started
    Download the 171-page Circle in a Box book full of advice on creating and sustaining a math circle, tips on how to effectively lead a math circle, sample presentations, etc.

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3 thoughts on “Math Clubs, Math Circles, and the Richmond Math Salon

  1. I absolutely agree that children often get a wrong notion that mathematics is about getting a right answer. I wrote about that in my manifesto years ago. However, I would qualify the reference to “school” and “schooling” in the quote, At school, the teacher poses the questions, and the students answer their questions. Schooling is not a natural environment for learning.

    Teachers, schools and schooling may be bad but also good, and making the setting black and white serves no good purpose. It actually contradicts the thesis that there is not always one and only right answer. This is even more true in pedagogy than in mathematics.

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