Last week Madeleine, one of my virtual friends who writes limericks, asked me if I would be celebrating Tau Day, June 28th. After watching this video, I think you will all agree that Tau Day is worth celebrating if only as a reminder that creativity is an essential element of education. Perhaps creativity is the essential element of education, (Would Sir Ken Robinson agree?), and play is at the heart of creativity.
Sure Pi=3.14159…, and it is useful to know how to calculate the circumference of a circle, but kids learn anything better when they experience it in the context of something real to them. You don’t really know it until you can turn it upside down, reverse it, negate it, and see what happens.
This is what is going on when we play with something. It seems frivolous because it doesn’t seem goal directed, but it is goal directed. The goal is brain development.
Moreover, children won’t really learn the language of mathematics if they don’t see it as something they can use to understand, shape and communicate about the real world. It has to have meaning.
As long as mathematics is taught as if it were remembering rules and learning procedures only, mathematics will continue to be a foreign language. If your teacher got you through math by teaching you little tricks and mnemonic devices, that is all she accomplished: She got you through math.
Mathematics is a language, a way of thinking, a set of disciplines that help us in the endless, infinitely challenging job of creating a life. We haven’t really learned Pi, until we can think about Tau, and have fun with it.