If curiosity killed the cat, the cat took one too many tests

Today I tutored two girls … with two radically different levels of curiosity

The first girl, an eleventh grader, taking Algebra 2. The second, a fifth grader, working on elementary school math.

The older girl was studying logarithms. I started to try to tell her about the mysteries of the number “e.” I find this interesting. I got nothing but yawns.

The younger girl, a fifth grader, was studying elementary-level geometry. She needed help on measuring angles. I showed her that, and then she wanted to learn more. I showed her how to do constructions. She loved it, and even made her very first circle with a compass on the spot. I showed her how tesselations work. She loved that, and created her own M.C. Escher look-a-like.

What struck me after this girl left is the question: “What a difference?” And then the follow-up … how much of the difference in curiosity is due to years in school?

Answer: a LOT!

All I can really say is that it’s sad how the focus on tests, and passing tests, and studying for tests, can really dampen a kid’s curiosity. It’s just sad, when you consider how many fun math topics there are, that so many kids get turned off.

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Comments on:"(Less) Curiouser and Curiouser" (1)Stephaniesaid:I do think it’s ashame that all the teachers do it teach for the test. Is it really their fault? I tutor, and I am trying to teach the love of math that I was taught. .

It’s truly ashame that when they ask a question to their teacher that the teacher cannot take the time to explain why or better yet the teacher doesn’t know the answer. That’s even more scary!

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