How Do Children Learn Math?
The suggestion that the way humans think is similar to that of a computer should somehow help us understand why learning requires both content and skills. Acquiring skills is necessary so that processing information becomes possible but content is equally important since most problems need not be solved from scratch every time. Even problems that are yet to be solved usually take cues from somewhere. After all, higher-order thinking does involve the ability to transfer, think critically, and solve problems. All of these require remembering some information.
Of course, all of the above may just be a product of our own imagination. All of the above may just be a result of our own metacognition. It is therefore reasonable to question if there is any physiological data that support the way we imagine how our brain works. There is now. Science Daily recently reported the following:
|Above copied from Science Daily|
paper) illustrates what can be behaviorally observed:
paper) that displays an increase in activity inside the hippocampus, the region of the brain involved in memory retrieval:
T1 and T2 correspond to the same time periods shown in the previous graph (T1 is when the children were 8 years old and T2 is when these children were 9). Science Daily describes the results of the study with the following more publicly digestible paragraph:
During the study, as the children aged from an average of 8.2 to 9.4 years, they became faster and more accurate at solving math problems, and relied more on retrieving math facts from memory and less on counting. As these shifts in strategy took place, the researchers saw several changes in the children's brains. The hippocampus, a region with many roles in shaping new memories, was activated more in children's brains after one year. Regions involved in counting, including parts of the prefrontal and parietal cortex, were activated less.So perhaps, our previous discussion is in fact not merely a product of our own imagination. And the teachers we have had forty years ago knew all along that we had to memorize the multiplication table....