Saturday, April 2, 2011

Connecting with the Math Averse/Math Phobic/Math Haters

I don't love math. It's not people-y enough for me to care about it. It's a puzzle to solve. Puzzles are ok. To analogize, if math were literature, it'd be the mystery genre.

Some folks like trying to beat the author at her game, solving the murder before Poirot or Miss Marple or Encyclopedia Brown or whomever. Meh. Who cares? What's the point?

Now me, I like a story that sticks to my guts for days, books peopled with characters that resonate, settings I get to know, filled with history or conversations that make me think, thoughts that transform me.

In school, math teachers are forever trying to persuade the math averse that:
a) We need math. (Uh, not so much as we need love and understanding and a calculator.)
b) Math is fun. (For you, maybe. Yawn.)

Math teachers need to change their tack for some of us. Here are two approaches:

1) I wish a math teacher had explained that math was problem solving, and that I could actually build my brain (synapses and such) by solving math problems. Even if the solving was onerous, at least it wouldn't seem pointless.

2) I wish a math teacher had shown artistic applications of math, not so much to persuade me that math was fun as to show me how others enjoyed it. And that is the genius of this link. Please watch it. It makes me irrationally happy, something I never thought I'd say about a mathematical endeavor: