"Mathematics is fun," interview with math Malena Martín

Mathematics is one of the areas of knowledge that give children the most problems since they begin their school stage. Today we are going to interview math, disseminator and specialist in creative mathematics Malena Martín.

Malena Martín has a degree in Mathematics, homeschooler teacher and mother, in addition to professionally dedicating himself to the dissemination of creative mathematics through workshops and specialized courses aimed at parents and educators. We can also read it in his blog Learning Mathematics where he offers us resources and ideas that we can use at home and manufacture ourselves.

Why are you math?

Since I was little I liked to "teach" or as I would now say facilitate and accompany the learning of others. Later, I also realized that how I learned was helping others understand something and most of the time the questions were about math. So it was, as in a natural way, I leaned towards mathematics and many years after teaching children of all ages I decided to do the race.

Has your way of teaching math changed over time?

It has changed dramatically. At first, I believed a lot in the "good" explanation and in the repetition, I have to clarify that I always taught high school or high school students. But, in the last year of my career I had the opportunity to have a great teacher of mathematics teaching, Professor Anton Aubanell, who invited Professor Maria Antonia Canals. From that moment on, my vision of mathematics, especially mathematics for young children, changed radically.

Later, I set out to learn more about all the work of Maria Antonia Canals, the Montessori method, the pedagogy of free schools and, together with my educational work with my children, have led me to my current way of seeing mathematics.

Is the educational design of mathematics good in Spanish school? What would you change?

To answer this question, you only need to see the results and especially the discomfort or disgust that school mathematics generates in children and adults. Definitely, mathematics at school has a bad design both in its content and in its implementation.

It is difficult, in a nutshell, to say everything that should be changed since it is not a matter of including or excluding specific issues, a much deeper change is necessary.

It is essential that teachers have a greater knowledge of children's internal learning processes as well as the subject they teach and how to do it. The child has to stop being the one who learns and become a discoverer who is guided by the teacher. Mathematics has to be something experiential, which is discovered with movement, with the manipulation of materials and ultimately passed to paper.

Do children naturally discover mathematics? At what ages can we already perceive it?

Children do mathematics from birth, mathematical abilities are a series of skills that are developed and mature. Just as our children learn to walk or talk, they also learn math. From babies, children observe, explore, compare, draw conclusions, that is, they do a mathematical work.

Is it necessary to help them or will it be a natural process?

Although we do not help them, by maturation they will be able to develop a logical thought or they will be able to know the numbers, to give some examples. We could also say that by maturation they will get to read and write or learn about the world around us.

What resources can we use at home to become familiar with arithmetic, ensembles or geometry?

At home we can have many resources, from manipulable materials to computer applications there is a wide range of possibilities. But do not forget that in everyday life, in everyday situations, cooking, talking, playing, there are many opportunities to work mathematical concepts.

Are there special materials that we should not discard?

In the first ages Montessori sensory materials are fundamental: matching, classifications, ordinations, etc., also the logical blocks of Dienes and later on 6-7 years the numerical strips are fundamental for the calculation.

Making a list is very difficult since there is a great variety and since many of them can be easily manufactured at home with recycled materials, we can easily have many materials to work the mathematics.

In my blog Learning Mathematics I try to share low-cost materials and activities to work all levels of mathematics.

What pedagogical currents do you find most interesting?

There are many pedagogues that I think have made great contributions and the list is not closed. María Montessori was a pioneer in the use of manipulable materials, Piaget with her construction of mathematical knowledge has become indispensable reading and there are currently people who are making great contributions to change the way mathematics is taught. In our country there are several people who are references such as Maria Antonia Canals, Claudi Alsina, J. A. Fernández Bravo or Jaime Martínez Montero and beyond our borders I could mention Constance Kamii.

In general, I think all the experiences that have to do with allowing the child to be the builder of his knowledge are very interesting, that he is the one who is being trained to face new challenges, whether mathematical or otherwise.

Do you educate at home, do your children enjoy math?

Yes, the truth is that they both like math, especially they love working with manipulable materials. Due to the age of my children, 11 and 13 we combine different resources: written material, manipulable materials, web pages, etc.

Are maths fun?

Mathematics like any other human knowledge is fun and exciting, but of course it greatly influences how they are transmitted. The vision, often distorted, that comes to us through textbooks or the education system in general does not favor fun.

The vision of a math teacher specializing in active, manipulative and creative pedagogy I hope will help you to expand your knowledge of this fascinating science and to allow you to help your children love to learn them.

We appreciate this Interview with the specialist Malena Martín and we will continue reading it to learn much more about mathematics. You can also read another interview recently made by Malena Martín our fellow Peques and more, in which he speaks especially of his experience as a mother who educates at home.

Official page | Learning math
In Babies and more | "We build mathematics": a highly recommended course