The first time I ever derived any enjoyment from a math class was calculus. Although the coursework was heavy and resembled Lockhart's descriptions, my teacher was excellent. She always tried to show us the why of things, not just the how, even though there wasn't much room for that in the class, and those parts were the ones that really stimulated my interest.
What's hubski's experience with math education?
Okay so I've been drinking more than a little bit and this post might be incoherent. But I feel like most subjects are already being taught fucking horribly in schools, not just math.
I actually always loved math and had no problem with it. I just happened to be one of those kids who loved math so much that I managed to love it even with the boring-ass way it's taught in schools. But I had a horrible experience with other subjects in school, and particularly history. History is so goddamn boring the way it's taught. Why the fuck should I memorize seemingly meaningless names and dates? I always crammed the last minute right before tests so I wouldn't fail and then forgot everything, and I'm paying for it now by knowing fuckall about major historical events. Now that I've graduated high school and can learn history that I'm interested in on my own, history is fucking interesting as shit and I love it. But it was taught in such a terrible way in school (or at least, the schools I went to).
In fact, I always hated science up until I had a fantastic science teacher in high school who made things interesting. Science is literally what I do for a living now. I can't even imagine where I would be if I had a bad high school science teacher.
This is exactly how I felt the first time I did a proof in high school geometry. I was sitting there struggling, and then all of a sudden it came to me like a stroke of lightning. It fucking felt like I was creating something. Of course I wasn't, I was proving some boring old proof that tens of thousands of other kids had done before me, but it felt new and fun. I wanted more.
Man, have we ever stopped to think about how mathematicians think about mathematics? This has actually been studied by cognitive scientists. One of the most important parts of thinking about a math problem is drawing shit on the board and talking aloud about it. Not doing endless exercises, not sitting alone in isolation like fucking Hollywood would make you believe. No, it's conceptually drawing stuff out and talking about it with another human being. Mathematical curiosity, list most other artistic and scientific curiosities, is a thirst for truth and beauty that you crave to share with other human beings.
Okay this is probably the only thing I truly disagree with in this article. I don't believe anything is inherently interesting, and I'd bet that there are a lot of people who aren't particularly interested in this question for one reason or another. I think it must be recognized that not everyone can be interested in everything. I have a great deal of love for most things, including science, math, and many forms of art, but if I were asked in school to draw something I would not enjoy it. That's just a fact of my personality. Assuming that all kids would be inherently interested in mathematical questions is not a safe assumption. But I think it is a safe assumption that most kids would be more interested in math were it taught in a different way, which is the main point of this article anyway so I shouldn't nitpick too much.
Ooh this is so true damn. Can I give this some snaps or is that reserved for poetry? But like seriously though, how do we solve this problem? Truly investing oneself in making sure that every student is thoroughly engaged with math is so hard and feels like it's beyond the call of duty for your standard teacher.
It's funny how deep culture goes because I hadn't even thought about this before.
As an aside though, I disagree with some of the author's dismissal of teachers and how teachers are trained but I'm not going to spend the next 5 hours quoting every single line and responding with paragraphs ;)
Fuck man, this paper is so full of truths.
One of the most annoying things about specialized fields is the specialized terminology that comes with them. I complain about this all the fucking time about my own field, linguistics. We use so many stupid ass terms that no one understands and no one becomes engaged with (except for linguistics, of course). We want people to become engaged with ideas, not memorize dumb terms, and this is what I was reminded of when I read that passage. Syntax and semantics are the worst with this, I swear...
I loved proofs but seeing as I was the only one in the class who did this is probably a problem.
See I always felt like I was having an epiphany, and then the only remaining thing was to write it out in the formal language we were taught in school. So fun!!!
This guy is seriously predicting my thoughts right now!
Thanks for sharing, this is something that spawns a lot of thought.
(This post has been brought to you by four ciders)