How A Brain Says: Finger Math For Empowering Children’s Creativity
Children typically learn basic numerical and arithmetic principles using finger-based representations. However,
whether or not reliance on finger-based representations is beneficial or detrimental is the subject of an ongoing debate between
researchers in neuro-cognition and mathematics education. From the neuro-cognitive perspective, finger counting provides
multisensory input, which conveys both cardinal and ordinal aspects of numbers. Recent data indicate that children with good
finger-based numerical representations show better arithmetic skills and that training finger gnosis, or “finger sense,” enhances
mathematical skills. Therefore neuro-cognitive researchers conclude that elaborate finger-based numerical representations are
beneficial for later numerical development. However, research in mathematics education recommends fostering mentally
based numerical representations so as to induce children to abandon finger counting. More precisely, mathematics education
recommends first using finger counting, then concrete structured representations and, finally, mental representations of
numbers to perform numerical operations. Taken together, these results reveal an important debate between neuro-cognitive
and mathematics education research concerning the benefits and detriments of finger-based strategies for numerical
development. In the present review, the rationale of both lines of evidence will be discussed.
Index Terms- Fingermath, mathematics education, neuro-cognitive.