What should children learn in the mathematics classroom?

How to think.

Is that all?

What do you mean; “Is that all?” That is everything! I would even be happy if we got rid of elementary school mathematics classrooms and replaced them with problem-tinkering laboratories.

That’s pretty extreme. What about addition? Where do the children learn mathematical skills if not in a mathematics classroom?

Mathematics is the best medium to teach students how to think – so in our problem-tinkering laboratory, mathematics is still at the centre of everything we do, but the emphasis is on solving problems – not learning the mathematical algorithms. The name “problem-tinkering laboratory” is extreme, but having problems at the core of the mathematics classroom is not.

Is the laboratory your idea?

No, the idea came from a mortal.


The Brazilian, Júlio César de Mello e Souza. He argued against classroom instruction and for mathematical laboratories and games. He died in 1974, but not before achieving worldwide fame with his book “The Man who Counted.”

I recognize the book, but not his name.

That’s because he published under a pen name: “Malba Tahan”.

A “mathematical laboratory” must have some great problems – Give us some examples.

The problems work in mathematics classroom as well. I’ll give you some…