Compare and contrast: using computers to improve math education

Compare and contrast these two approaches:

1. Conrad Wolfram: Teaching kids real math with computers

2. Salman Khan: Let’s use video to reinvent education

Wolfram talks about how computers should be used to advance the understanding of math the way it’s really used in the real world.

Kalman talks about using computers to deliver traditional math instruction and gold stars.

Kalman reinforces the “teaching” paradigm; Wolfram blows it up and insists we look critically at what’s being taught.

Both these talks are about “improving education with technology” – but they couldn’t be further apart in world view.

But the TED audience applauds them both. This is why conversations about reforming education are difficult.


PS Wolfram makes a great point at the end of his talk about how, if we think that learning to calculate teaches procedural thinking, we have a much better way to do it by teaching programming.