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I am interested in opinions, and if possible, references for published research, about the pros and cons of teaching abstract maths concepts to young children. My younger brother (five years old) understands negative numbers and square roots so I was thinking of trying to teach him about complex numbers and maybe some other concepts, but my elder brother (who is doing a maths/stats degree) said it was a crazy idea (without elaborating). Is such a question OK for this site ?

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Your question seems fine. I think it would fit well under the tag (mathematics-education).

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. I've done it, though I wasn't able to use the tag (mathematics-education) , only (education) $\endgroup$ – Joe King Jun 22 '12 at 17:59
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    $\begingroup$ @Joe Those two tags are synonyms. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Jun 22 '12 at 19:05
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For at least 20 years Herman Rubin has been posting in various discussion groups his views of teaching mathematics to young children. Many have disagreed with his views, often pointing out that his own experiences growing up and that of his son are atypical examples. I think you will find some of these discussions of interest. See these sci.math posts, for example.

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  • $\begingroup$ As Francois Dorais pointed out here, it seems that you have now two accounts on MO, this one and this one. It is a result of migration of MO to SE network, instructions how to merge the two accounts can be found here. Sorry for an off-topic comment, I just wanted to find a post where I can ping you. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Sep 16 '13 at 10:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Martin Sleziak: It appears that my situation has been fixed (without my having to do anything), as your second this one doesn't seem to exist anymore, and I appear able to reply to MO posts when I made a trial attempt. For what it's worth, I don't think I've been unable to post anything to MO lately -- my absence is mostly a result of not seeing anything I know much about and not having much time in the past few months to look at posts beyond the "front page" when I go there. But thanks for looking out for me! $\endgroup$ – Dave L. Renfro Sep 16 '13 at 17:46
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I do not see any problem in posting this question.

Also due to the higher level of understanding of your brother, it would represent a puzzle for him at his age to learn more complex math. If he is willing, i see no problem in teaching him. Furthermore if he presents interest why wouldn't you help him.

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