Quotable: Math as a Second Language

Wenninger 94photo by fdecomite via flickr (CC BY 2.0)

I sat in class three days ago and thought to myself, “They need a class called ‘Math as a second language’ or MSL for short.”

It is easy to understand what a median is, or what attributes a kite has, or why is a rectangle a square but a square not a rectangle… for a minute or a day.

It is easy to temporarily memorize a fact. But without true understanding of the concept those “definitions” fade. If the foundation of truly understanding is not there to begin with then there is little hope for any true scaffolding and even less chance of any true learning.

Comment on Christopher Danielson’s Geometry and language

2 thoughts on “Quotable: Math as a Second Language

  1. The photo is from Francesco De Comité‘s beautiful Flickr collection. Since he named the photo “Wenninger 94” perhaps the book is Polyhedron Models, by Magnus Wenninger?

    The quote is from a blog post about whether geometry students’ misconceptions about definitions (“Are these a subset of those?”) stem primarily from math concepts or from a language problem.

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