Here is another book I am reading as a graduate student in math elementary education: “Why don’t students like school”, by D.T. Willingham. I enjoy the cognitive approach the author takes to explain how to better support children’s learning.
One thing I noted is how your brain has to think about what you try to learn in order to retain it :
“Thus, your memory is not a product of what you want to remember or what you try to remember: it’s a product of what you think about” (p53)
And it is actually quite easy for children (and adults!) to get distracted from thinking about the concept they intend to learn. Quick example from the book (p64): a math problem involving cell phone minutes in High School may have students think about… the last text they received rather than thinking about… math. And it may be tricky to motivate children with a topic of interest, or add some fun to help them learn without crossing the line of distracting them.
Indeed, I had the perfect example with my child this week.
Rosie came back home one night, and recognized the symbol “<” in one of my books left on the table. “We just started learning about that symbol at school !” she said. So of course, I asked her to tell me more about it. To which she answered… “I am not quite sure yet, but it is like an alligator. And I love alligators !”
Zoology: 1 – Math: 0