# Math isn’t hard, it’s a language | Randy Palisoc | TEDxManhattanBeach

Translator: Radu Chirila

Reviewer: Ariana Bleau Lugo 26% on the nation’s report card, that’s the percentage

of U.S. 12th graders who are proficient in Math. In America, we pride ourselves

as being an exceptional country. But does 26% sound exceptional to you? Raise your hand if you think as a country

we need to do way better than this. I’m with you. We all need Math, but why

are so many kids confused by it? Is it because only 26% of people

are hardwired for Math, while 74% are not? After working with thousands of kids,

I can tell you, this isn’t the case at all. Kids don’t understand Math because we’ve been teaching it

as a dehumanized subject. But if we make Math human again,

it will start to make sense again. You’re probably wondering: “How was Math ever human

in the first place?” So, think about it. (Laughter) Math is a human language,

just like English, Spanish or Chinese, because it allows people

to communicate with each other. Even in ancient times,

people needed the language of Math to conduct trade, to build monuments, and to measure the land for farming. This idea of Math as a language

isn’t exactly new. A great philosopher once said: “The laws of nature are written

in the language of mathematics.” So you see?

Even Galileo agrees with me. (Laughter) But somewhere along the line, we’ve taken this language of math, which is about the real world around us, and we’ve abstracted it

beyond recognition. And that’s why kids are confused. Let me show you what I mean. Read this 3rd grade

California Math Standard and see if it would make sense

to an eight year-old. “Understand a fraction 1/b

as the quantity formed by 1 part when a whole is partitioned

into b equal parts.” Understand the fraction a/b as the quantity formed

by a parts of size 1/b. (Laughter) And if you gave this description

to an 8 year-old, you’d probably get a reaction…

like this. (Laughter) To a Math expert,

this standard makes sense, But to a kid, it’s absolute torture. I chose this example

specifically because fractions are fundational to algebra,

trigonometry and even calculus. So if kids don’t understand fractions

in elementary and middle school, they have a tough road

ahead of them in high-school But is there a way to make fractions

simple and easy for kids to understand? Yes! Just remember that Math is a language

and use that to your advantage. For example, when I teach 5th graders

how to add and subtract fractions, I start with the apples + apples lesson. First I ask,

“What’s 1 apple plus 1 apple?” And kids will often say 2,

which is partially correct. Have them include the words as well

since math is a language. So it’s not just 2, it’s 2 apples. Next is 3 pencils plus 2 pencils. You all know that pencils + pencils

give you pencils, so everyone, how many pencils? Audience: 5 pencils. 5 pencils is right. And the key is you included the words. I tried this lesson

with my 5-year-old niece once. After she added pencils and pencils,

I asked her, “What’s 4 billion plus 1 billion?” And my aunt overheard this

and she scolded me and said, “Are you crazy? She’s in kindergarten! How’s she supposed to know

4 billion plus 1 billion?!” (Laughter) Undaunted, my niece finishes counting,

looks up and says: “5 billion?” And I said:

“That is right, it is 5 billion.” My aunt just shook her head and laughed because she did not expect that

from a 5-year-old. But all you have to do

is take a language approach and Math becomes intuitive

and easy to understand. Then I asked her a question that kindergartners

are definitely not supposed to know: “What’s one third plus one third?” And immediately she answered:

“2 thirds”. So if you’re wondering

how could she possibly know that when she doesn’t know about

numerators and denominators yet? You see, she wasn’t thinking

about numerators and denominators. She thought of the problem this way. And she used 1 apple + 1 apple

as her analogy to understand 1 third plus 1 third. So if even a kidergartner

can add fractions, you better believe that

every 5th grader can do it as well. (Applause) Just for fun, I asked her

a high-school algebra question: What’s 7 x² plus 2 x²? And this little 5-year-old girl

correctly answered, 9 x². And she didn’t need any exponent rules

to figure that out. So when people say that we are

either hardwired for math or not, it’s not true. Math is a human language, so we all have the ability

to understand it. (Laughter) We need to take a language

approach to math urgently because too many kids are lost

and are anxious about math and it doesn’t have to be that way! I worked with an angry,

frustrated high-school student once who couldn’t pass algebra because she only knew 44%

of her multiplication facts. I told her, “That’s like trying to read

and only knowing 44% of the alphabet. It’s holding you back.” She couldn’t factor or solve equations

and she had no confidence in Math. As a result, this teenager

had no confidence in herself. I told her,

“We have to start with multiplication because once you know all your facts

by heart, everything gets easier, and it’ll be like having a fast pass

to every ride of Disneyland.” (Laughter) What do you think?” And she said “Ok.” So she systematically learned

her times tables in 4 weeks and yes, even multiplication

has language embedded in it. You’d be surprised how many kids

don’t realize 7 times 3 can be spelled out as “seven times” 3, which just means 3 seven times,

just like this. So when kids see it this way, they quickly realize

that repeated addition is slow and inconvenient, so they gladly memorize

that 3 seven times always gives you 21. So for this teenager

who was at risk of dropping out, becoming fluent

and confident in multiplication was a game changer. Because for the first time

she could focus on problem solving instead of counting on her fingers. I knew she had turned the corner when she figured out

that a 2-year car lease at $445 a month

would cost you $10,680 and she looked at me disapprovingly

and said: “Mr Polisoc, that’s expensive!” (Laughter) At that moment, math was no longer

causing problems for her, but she was using math to solve problems

as a responsible adult would. As an educator, it’s my duty

to challenge kids to reach higher, so I leave you with this challenge. Our country is stuck at 26% proficiency, and I challenge you

to push that number higher. This is important because mathematical

thinking not only builds young minds, but our kids need it to imagine

and build a future that doesn’t yet exist. Meeting this challenge can be

as simple as apples + apples. Insist that we teach Math

as a human language and we will get there sooner,

rather than later. Thank you! (Applause)

The ad sucks bro

Böyle öğretdiler de biz mi öğrenmedik?!

hey all of this is what i learnt in 1 – 6 grade

Maths is ?

Matematik hocam siz olsanız kpss den atanmıştım şimdiye kadar ?

1 4 3 All! Subscribe us

Its obvious! His neice is Asian too. What elase do you expect?

垃圾

It IS NOT A Language

I know MBTI and I know Math Requires Too much plain introverted Thinking and little intuition

It Suits best For INTP , not US

Simplemente maravilloso!

Mil Gracias! ?

Every subject depends upon teacher

this is a great talk. I totally agree with it. Thank you.

Mental

Abuse

To

Humans

Math is the only subject that isn’t a language. Mathematics are understood to be the same everywhere in the universe. Mathematics weren’t created but rather discovered.

when I read the title I was like

that I don't speakTabi ki bir dildir Bazı insanlar yeni icatlar yapar Bunları denemeye kalkar ama çoğu yarı yolda pes eder ve başaran kişi 2-3 sayı dilimidir değil mi Matamatik zaman işidir Benim algımla senin algın tam olarak aynı mıdır? Benim mantığım ile seni mantığın aynı mıdır Matamatiği tek bir dille sığdıramayız çünkü bir çok mantık içerebilir çünkü farklı mantığa sahip insanlar tarafındam bulunmuştur Matamatik tam anlamıyla bir mantıksa Sen o çocuğa sadece işlem gösterip yapmasını beklersen o da sana ben bunu nerede kullanıcam der ?

This is excellent and highly useful for children

Didn't even bother with the video just came for the comments ?

yeah its not as simple if you teach here this then all the suddenly 3^5+3^5=6^5

The presenter taught neither fractions nor algebra, and he did not teach math as a "language". He taught precisely an abstraction, namely that numbers are independent of what they are enumbering. The trick the kid understood was to ignore the language signfier (what you are counting: apples, pencils, …) and merely add the numbers. Nothing else was gained. And this is easily shown: ask the kid what 2 thirds plus 7 thirds is. I'm sure the answer would be 9 thirds. If they actually had understood anything about fractions as such, the answer would be – three. Learning math is not like learning a foreign natural language, and abstraction is key to its power.

It's amazing

0:13

Awesome

Maths is not a problem the comprehension is the problem

Sees Kindergartener solving algebra question (although it wasn't hard at all)Me:What!!! I didn't even know what algebra is, when I was a Kindergartener!

Okay what's 9999 billion times 9999 billion. Sure you can give that answer

4:55

TED? Talk

Mind? Blown

1 third? 1 third

Hotel? Trivago

I hate when people say “PsHh, mATh iS sOoOoOO eASy”

No bro. Math is HARD AS FU*K. And this is coming from someone that doesn’t know when to quit until he CAN NO LONGER DO IT PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY! And yes, I have had MANY freak out sessions dealing with math.

I wish he were my math teacher

영어는 분자분모순으로 말해서 좋아보인다말이지..

Interesting talk

Yes, it’s merely a language. But how many languages can you speak?

Kill the ceo of math

İt's true ı can do it.

Life is harder than math… Sometimes…

i'm an asian, every time i see fraction, i have a pie chart popped up in my head, instantly. like the google chrome logo, well at least for 1/3.

with this, adding simple fraction is a breeze.

Great!!!!!

What is thiry one plus thiry one …… Thiry two . You are right…

hong kong is not china! free hong kong!

I'm sorry but for me this video is full of oversimplified math and playing on words. The theory that you can find shortcuts using words or something won't hold up for much else in math. I don't understand how this is a famous TEDx talk.

I love math. Even though i can't understand a thing???

Whenever I get stuck of something for a long time, I just find a new way of thinking.

“We did not create math, we discovered math.”

This would have been helpful when I taught 5th grade!

can you be my math teacher!?

Languages

cannotbe taught by merely using a chalk-and-talk approach… Onemustuse different methods and aids to teach mathematics as itisa language itself. I think your method and approach is amazing!cried watching

The main problem is bureaucratic faggetry.

Warning! This video is helpful if you are a parent to a 6-7 years old child that struggles with basic math problems! Not suggested to others!

I love you math.

Sorry for his students.

Math is hard for most, and it's not a language. It certainly has a language though, but saying it

isa language is absurd on its face. My 2 cents reacting to the title, lolzlz.Ok boomer.

This came up in suggestion 4 years too late. All’s I’ll say is

You spelt Maths wrong..

1:33

Legit so many hate comments :/

I agree. If you truly think about it, symbols of math are the words and rules and operations are the grammar.

Yes. It's a language that can describe things. Unfortunately it has taken precedence over actual physics and experimentation. Abstract 'theories' (which are mostly unfalsifiable hypotheses) have led the scientific realm by the nose and led us precisely nowhere in terms of breakthrough discoveries in cosmology or astrophysics.

Mathematics are only useful when all the symbols are properly defined and applied to observation and experiment. It's not in place of reality. The map is not the territory – Alfred Korzybsky.

said who: an Asian guy

4 işlem tabi basit olcak amın oğlu o kadar kişinin önünde 4 işlem anlatmaya utanmadın mı ya

I challange this man to come and teach kids in mexico. We have kids that can't sum 3 + 2 in 5th grade

"Different Denominator joined the group!"

LOL. 26% of twelve graders proficient in math is quite high. It's ridiculous to expect better. In fact I doubt it is so high.

Oh why am i not suprised???

Oh right its an asian…

Hehehe give her a logarithm question

i love math. i want to go to college to study it properly, i want to sutdy pure math. this year is my last highschool year. if my family doesn't approve my coice (im asian, y know that parents tends to tell you to think realisticly.) i'll chose something that has math on it.

If you can do math it's good or else it can be very frustrating

What About derivatives , Integration , Laplas Transform , Fourier Transforms ?? it is Going all My head bro at least I think now Kinder Garden Math was better than this maths ?

Excellent video!

Fractions and all is great but ever tried applying logic to a higher order bessel equation involving series expansion or n variable abstract linear algebra or residues in complex integration?

1 apple + 1 apple

Math isn’t hard…

5:12 was really akward

Maths is a language and I stress to my students to read questions properly in terms of a language. Because of this, I would argue 7 x 3 should not even be written as 7 times 3 representing "7 times" 3 meaning repeated addition of 3 seven times, but it should be written and said as 7 groups of 3. For younger children, this is especially important as it is more concrete as opposed to an abstract concept such as 7 times 3.

Dear speaker, you have to give thanks to

Jean Piaget ,just before you started talking.

Jean Piaget who is founded the cognitive learning theory that everything is explained.

You are just repeating his theory with out mention about the founder.

You are repeating him with different examples :).

What is 10 factorial plus 3 factorial?

13 factorial, maths is a language yay!

Yeah its a language. They even use letters…only…sometimes…i dont wanna be here anymore

Math to me just seems like something that was important in the past but now it’s just useless with the internet it’s basically adding more water to a plant that has already flourished it’s just not needed in fact it may just cause a little harm

Languages can be hard tho

Subjects like math, physics are my worst but language and art are my favorite. If math is a language, how can I learn to love it when I find it so difficult?

Why always Chinese good at math

Math isn't genetic. It's a skill and like anything else, must be learned by repetition and practice. Glad he showed the problem with common core in America.

Pretty bad video ngl

Oh god, I love math

Math is a language.