The teaching of mathematics through experiential means, as espoused by Mathland
, an educational publisher, and others. In whole math, concepts are to be "discovered", not "taught", and the teacher is enjoined to be a "guide on the side" instead of a "sage on the stage", shepherding groups of children through such discoveries as the commutative property of addition
such as lengths of chain
, paper models, etc. Answers are not explicitly given as "right" and "wrong", instead the children vote on which answer is the most convincing. Written essays are stressed, as is cooperation
and integration of math ideas with other topics, such as environmental awareness and social studies
, and ample space is given for children to talk about how it feels to do what they do.
That said, Whole Math is, well, pretty awful. In the general rush to remake elementary-school curricula into a consensus of intellectual progressive fads and fancies, the problem remained that the Western notion of mathematics, despite incorporating influences from most European and Middle Eastern nations, is predominantly the work of various white French and British males (in the 17th-18th centuries), Germans and Russians (19th-20th centuries), and quite a few Jews (notably Hungarians) and Asians (20th century and beyond). Try as one might, there is no right-brained, spiritual way of doing say, linear algebra, that's been handed down as part of a shamanic tradition, or a woman's calculus, separate from a men's calculus, that takes into consideration women's superior skills in networking and intuition. About the only way to cover this up is to pretend that there is one, and look to the children themselves to hack out the details, while handing them pocket calculators in case they like, need an answer?
What ensues is that few children taught by this method know much about the actual pleasures of numbers, as opposed to math-like activity. For middle-class and above children, this is no handicap, since if their test scores are poor, they can always visit Kaplan, or some other test-prep center. For poor children, this can be disasterous, especially when they, sooner or later, discover they've been had, and they aren't the geniuses they thought they were.