Friday, November 9, 2007

Hand waving works

The US ranks in the bottom 20% among industrialized nations in math. Educators may want to listen up to what University of Chicago psychologists just found out about how children learn math.

Two groups of third and fourth graders participated in the study. One group was told to use their hands when solving math problems, the other group was not so instructed. The hand-waving group was four times more likely to express new ideas to solve problems, and were one and a half times more likely to get the right answer.

Next thing you know some researcher will be telling us that having students verbalize their ideas will help them learn even more. In the good old days, it was the teacher who did all the talking and hand-waving.

And that just might explain how we got to where we rank in math today.

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