Thursday, 13 December 2012

Number Sense by Stanislas Dehaene

Mathematics is my favourite subject in school. When I found this book in the returned book section of the library, I picked it up for the non-fiction category of the Eclectic Reading Challenge.

Do you know children as young as six-months have number sense? That they can distinguish between numbers and quantities. With help of experiments and research Dehaene demonstrates this. He quickly adds that this does not mean that we start teaching our children complex mathematical concepts. Dehaene suggests that Number Sense is inherited in human beings, almost like our capacity for language sense.

Dehaene points out that the study of brain of mathematical geniuses shows that the physical nature of brain is not different from ordinary people. So if Shakuntala Devi (Indian Mathematical genius) works out complex multiplications in matter of seconds, Dehaene argues, it is because she has worked out a method to do it and it is by constant practice.

Dehaene points out the importance of the discovery of Zero as a decimal place system in making great strides in Mathematics. He also points out difference between mathematical ability of Chinese students to Western Students, is because of the monosyllable number name in Mandarin (yi, er, san) when compared to multi-syllablic number name in English (one, two, three).

Dehaene suggests using interesting approaches to teach mathematics with puzzles and interesting numbers rather than force kids to memorise tables. Understanding of concepts is essential rather than working out sums without basic understanding.

This is an interesting book that anybody can understand because Dehaene gives interesting research examples for the theories he postulates and explains in easy terms. This book gave me an insight into how we learn mathematics and about mathematical geniuses. The intersection of neuroscience and our number sense is enlightening. This book published is 1997.

No comments: