I officially hated math when I was in school. I didn’t get it. Subtraction was a mystery for me. When you borrow and there is a zero, does the zero become a nine?
It didn’t help that I had an Algebra II teacher who wrote the book.
Then came my Montessori training. I began to get math. The stamp game helped me see the whole borrowing process in subtraction. Division finally made sense. Squares were really squares and cubes were really cubes. Fraction division is really cool. Why do you cross multiply. Ahhh. I know why now. My life isn’t just a system of plugging in the proper method to get the answer.
Understanding the why. Thinking through the process. These are important in Montessori education. This is what makes Montessori math different from many other methods of instruction. The underlying framework of Montessori math is place value. Truly understanding how numbers build on each other moving from the simple family to the tens, hundreds, thousands. (Had I understood place value subtraction would not have been a mystery.)
Now that the boys are moving into the Erd Kinder age (third plane of development – junior high), the focus becomes practical, conversation based “word” problems. Arthur Benjamin is a high school math teacher. His discussion on TED showed deeply developmental sensitivity to the needs of the child. Secondarily it explains why Montessori kids don’t always do well with test word problems.