The Insight Method of Teaching Math

I have a different way of teaching math. Essentially, students learn concepts/mental models when they have insights while solving problems. I do not first explain how to solve the problem.

Unlike the standard way of teaching math:

  • my way is effective
  • my way can be enjoyable
  • my way is supported by a legitimate theory of learning
  • my way teaches the more general skills of thinking and solving problems

The standard approach to teach math is built on the assumption that all learning is memory. That theory is contraindicated by the evidence; learning memories is not enjoyable; and memorizing is not a particularly useful skill. And for all that, people forget their memories and don't learn math. It's a disaster and a tragedy.

This Website

You will find on this website:
  • Theory: theoretical explanation of how and why you should be teaching mental models. Yes, I have a Ph.D. and a published article on this topic.
  • Documentation: Why I think this method is effective and enjoyable.
  • Tips: Information about how to apply this method. In particular, I use "surfin' math", which might sound crazy, but it works great.
  • Problems. I have developed many math problems to use with this method.

Ashley (third-grader, when first doing my problems): "These problems really make you think."
Ashley (a little later): "Mr. Frick, how did you think of these problems?"
Me (joking): "I was sitting around one day figuring out how to torture children, and I thought of these problems."
Ashley (seriously): "That's not right, Mr. Frick. The students of today will be the leaders of tomorrow."
Me: "Then they need to learn how to think."
Ashley (sing-song): "Never mind."

Robert Frick