“Just think how much time is wasted forcing unwilling children ‘learn’ math, and how terribly ineffective and debilitating it is. Have the courage not to disable your children’s minds by foisting coercive education… on them, and instead just fully support and empower your children to pursue whatever their interests are…”

– Mathophile

Just how much time is utterly wasted in conventional coercive education? The answer may give you pause, especially if you fear that without forced mathematics lessons, your children are doomed to fail in life.

Even home-educators have such fears, and even though they may give their children a lot of educational freedom in most respects, many fearfully impose mathematics lessons on their children. Some speak of how they “only give [their] children one or two math lessons a week, and still teach them everything they need to know.” Others give a short math lesson most days for a number of years, and are pleased that their children get good scores on standardised tests as a result.

But what if, instead of all those math lessons you get your children to do, you were to scrupulously respect your children’s educational autonomy and *not * impose *any * unwanted math lessons? Suppose you were taking your children seriously to the best of your ability, viewing them as full human beings in their own right, whose lives are their own? And suppose your child showed no interest whatsoever in mathematics for their entire life until one day, at the age of 13, they decided that before it was too late, they wanted to “try school, to see what it’s like”, and they naturally wanted a bit of preparation for school, given that they had literally never had a single formal lesson in their entire life? So one of the things it seemed that they might want to get caught up on was, of course, the school math curriculum.

Many years ago, a child of my acquaintance and her mother sought my mathematical expertise in exactly this case. (The child is now a successful adult and has given her permission for me to write this piece.) This child had never even been taught arithmetic, let alone anything more advanced. Her mother had a school-induced aversion to mathematics and had zero confidence that she could help her daughter learn math. I have a degree in Mathematics and enjoy mathematical thinking. The 13-year-old child asked me to give her math lessons. So I gave her a half-hour lesson every morning, until we had covered the entire 13 years of the school curriculum. How long do you think it took us?

About six weeks.

You read that right.

About six weeks of half an hour a day.

And it was effortless. Effortless like you can’t believe.

Her mother and I were both astonished by how effortlessly she picked it up. Flabbergasted by how she could calculate in her head without a calculator. Not quite believing how instantly she grasped even the more complex, subtle issues. Astounded that she so quickly understood not just what she would be expected to know by 13, but the entire school curriculum!

And this is a child whose mother even in recent years has had to ask me to remind her how to calculate fractions, percentages and other very basic things.

Think very carefully before you destroy your children’s natural ability to learn lightning fast whatever they need to know, when they want to learn it. Or you too might end up disabling your child’s mathematical ability just like my friend’s mathematical ability was disabled by being forced to learn math. Just think how much time is wasted forcing unwilling children ‘learn’ math, and how terribly ineffective and debilitating it is. Have the courage not to disable your children’s minds by foisting coercive education (whether school, home education or coercive unschooling) on them, and instead just fully support and empower your children to pursue whatever their interests are, even if their interests include nothing whatsoever that looks anything like formal education (as was the case in my friend’s child’s case). There is nothing wrong with your children. They do not need to be coerced. Coercion impairs their ability to create knowledge; it does not help.

**See also:**

- Surely kids need to be forced to learn maths?
- But if we don’t make her do maths…
- How do you get children excited about maths?

Mathophile, 2023, ‘The inefficiency of subjecting unwilling children to unwanted mathematics lessons’, https://takingchildrenseriously.com/the-inefficiency-of-subjecting-unwilling-children-to-unwanted-mathematics-lessons/