Discovering a Kid-Friendly Path to Math that’s Fun, Easy, and Effective

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I have discovered a fantastic, kid-friendly way to teach the times tables that has generated excitement among teachers, students, and over a million viewers on YouTube. I’d like to share with you how I came upon this amazing path to fun, easy math.

Have you ever heard of the Calvin and Hobbs cartoons? Calvin, a little kid with a BIG imagination, has a stuffed tiger named Hobbs, who comes alive and talks with him. I’d like to share with you Calvin’s take on math: he says to Hobbs, “I’ve been thinking and I think mathematics is not a science, it is a religion.” Hobbs says, “A religion, you say?” “Yes, it is full of miracles. You take two numbers and add them and magically get an entirely different number. You have to believe it or not. Why, this math book is full of things that have to be accepted on faith. I tell you, it is a religion.” Hobbs exclaims, “And in the public schools too, no less. Call a lawyer!” Calvin reasons, “As a math atheist, I should be excused from this.”

Calvin, and a large majority of kids, are creative, imaginative right-brain thinkers, who learn by seeing the big picture. However, most children are taught math in a rote, left-brain way and feel bad about math and themselves for not understanding it, and, like Calvin, they become math atheists.

Five years ago I was working at a Charter school and I was asked to prepare kids for standardized tests in math. It went well until one day I was working with Betty, a 5th grade student who refused to even look at a math problem. She said, ‘Nooo, I don’t want to. It’s too hard.” Dejected, she put her head on the desk, saying, “I can’t do math.”

Like Calvin, Betty was a math atheist, with a right-brain learning style and the way math was usually taught just didn’t make sense to her. So, feeling inspired, I had her create the Ones using patterns, and then the Twos using other patterns. We were simply playing with patterns, but after a while I helped her find patterns that revealed the big picture of the entire times table! It all began to make sense to her. Seeing is believing.

The next day I came into the room to work with another student and Betty waved to me enthusiastically and said, “I’m using the paper for all my math problems,” referring to the paper we had scribbled on the day before. She now had an entirely different attitude about math, and about herself.

I worked on the times table that night, expanding this pattern discovery process, and I tried a new version the next day with more students. They had the same positive reaction that Betty had! Kids loved this right-brained approach to math, and teachers and the principal loved it too (as well as parents, particularly home-schooling parents).

I continued to play with and expand this visual right-brain math approach, and posted free videos on YouTube, revealing in playful and animated patterns the bigger picture of math. Everybody encouraged me to share this gift with the world. I named this system Pattern Play Math and I became Mister Numbers.

My intention with this expanding right brain math approach is to help kids feel good about math, and themselves, and help them become math believers. In addition to over a million views on Youtube, I have received hundreds of enthusiastic responses from students, teachers, and parents who have been thrilled to find a kid-friendly, fun, easy, and effective path to math.

Tom Biesanz

AKA MisterNumbers

And author of the book, Right Brain Math

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