Ten One Math Blog

Since construction drawing can be learned by children, I recommend it as one of the first things every beginner should learn. If I had learned construction drawing as a child, I wouldn't have had to struggle in my career and drawing for tv shows would have been so. Much. Easier.

Teaching young children Chinese number words is the math equivalent of teaching construction drawing. By learning the most important skill first, the child will be more confident and have a significant lifelong advantage. Instead of thinking math is hard, they think it's easy and fun.

The math skills I developed in 1st grade gave me a lifelong confidence and significant advantage beyond what you might expect. Math was super boring up to 5th grade because I had already learned the curriculum. In high school I was busy with other interests and didn't try hard in math, but I still scored in the top 2 percentile on the ACT so I was well-prepared in case I wanted to pursue a STEM career.

According to national ACT results only 41% of U.S. students are college-ready for math. About 1/3 of students who are college ready will become STEM graduates. I believe using regular number words in the U.S. -- like they do in countries that lead the world in math education -- might double the number of children who are college-ready for math and also double the number of STEM graduates.

You might say, that's an assumption and I would say yes, innovation relies on assumptions. The most valuable innovations like smart phones or reusable rockets rely on an assumption where somebody says: "Hey gang, the way we're doing abc is messed up and wouldn't it be better to do xyz instead?" Without testing our assumptions, there is no innovation. Innovators making assumptions and then testing them out in the real world is how we get nice things on planet earth.

Culture changes by changing what we teach children, but it doesn't mean we change the entire education system overnight. A more conservative approach is to start on a small scale in a few Kindergarten classrooms, or with just a few parents. As history shows, just a small number of like-minded people working together can change the world.

By the way, there is no downside to trying this out. Consider Singapore, who is ranked #1 in world math education. Singapore is bilingual, meaning preschool children learn both Chinese regular number words and English irregular number words. Children in Singapore show no ill effects of learning both regular and irregular number words, so the only real question is how much we will win? Will this be a small win, a big win, or a gigantic super win? Only one way to find out.

Science proves young children who use regular English number words will gain a significant advantage. By trying out a science-based system of number words where 11 is ten one, 12 is ten two, and 24 is two ten four, we might significantly change U.S. culture for the better, for future generations. And we might win bigger than any of us could possibly imagine.