Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Aspergers, science and Mathematics

Today Google and I have been to see The Theory of Everything , a biopic about the life of Stephen Hawking. I was surprised that Google enjoyed it as it turned round the relationship of Professor Hawking and his first wife rather than on  his scientific theories.That suited me fine.The film was well acted, filmed and emotional. Whilst in the car on the way home I comnented that the brief references to quantum phgsics and black holes went over my head and to my surprise Google launched into an explanation on the difference between Quantum physics and relativity. Where he gets this information is anybodies guess, probably from one of the space exploratory games he plays like Kerbal space programme.I had however heard of the famous mathematician Roger Penrose. I remember him being the author of a maths book I read when I was just starting along our home education journey.It's funny considering I hated maths at school just how many maths books I've read.
One of the things that changed my attitude the most was an online course by Professor Jo Boaler of Stanstead university.She wrote the book Elephant in the Classroom and she explained that in her opinion maths is taught badly in the British class room. Instead of posing problems and asking groups of children to work on finding out an answer they were shown how to answer a maths problem in a specific way and were often criticised if they tackled it from an alternative angle.Jo Boaler taught me that there are often several ways of approaching a maths problem and that the method of getting there was more important thatn the answer.
Google would certainly agree with that. Through gaming he has learned probability, angles, distance, calculus and many maths concepts without a text book in sight. He hasnt learnedhis times table off rote (which to him would be a huge waste of time), instead he has . Taught himselfcways to discover the answer when he needs it. This is the boy who used to pull the plugs from the computers tondisrupt the maths lesson because he couldn't do maths.Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned from the way he has taught himself.
Oh and just for the record I left him watching Stephen Hawking's Universe with his dad when I went up to bed the other night.I have to say that I understood a little bit more about quantum physics after watching some of it and I found this site  which simplifies a subject I chose to avoid at school!

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