I had a college student ask me in class once: “Why are you so passionate about math?”
Turns out, I’m not passionate about math at all. I’m passionate about teaching math.
Math is a puzzle.
I always looked at math as puzzles. I’ve never needed a connection to the real world. It’s always been about patterns, connections and the “What if…?”
This started as a toddler when I noticed that tweezers and electrical outlets matched so nicely. (You know the end to that one…)
In fact, I’m not very good at math at all.
Ask me a math question I haven’t done recently… It’s likely I’ll google it.
I’m just really good at thinking creatively and logically at the same time. Which is a great substitute for knowing a lot.
There’s math in real life.
Lots of people could care less about the application of math to reality (like physics and engineering). But people do math all the time in everyday life:
- You set your alarm clock using subtraction.
- You choose your car using ratios (miles per gallon).
- You decide where you’ll live or work using distance (and tons of algebra to figure gas mileage and tolls).
Even vegging out watching TV uses math: “Do I have time during this commercial set to go pee?”
If you’re not using math, you’re either asleep or dead.
Math isn’t just in textbooks.
There’s little or no early learning to get kids prepared for the logic and reasoning required for math. Parents often limit pre-school math work to learning numbers from 1 to 10 – never realizing that their kids are doing nothing more than memorizing a poem.
Later kids (falsely) learn that math is nothing more than textbook work. Then they go home to parental and media math negativity. So they perceive that math is never used and it’s okay to hate.
When they finally get to me, as college freshmen, they’re convinced that they’ll never use math and that they’re not good at it to begin with.
Making math real.
The challenge is to get students (and society) to see that math isn’t just textbook work. That math is used everyday and it’s what we solve puzzles and life’s problems with.
Math is really the logic and reasoning behind everything we do.
If people can think through a problem at work, they can think through a math problem from a book.
So I’m passionate because…
So to answer your question, dear student, I’m passionate about math because someone has to be. For your sake and your classmates’ sakes. For your children and your grandchildren.
I’m passionate about math so that together we can change the culture of math in the home. So that you’ll have math confidence when your children are born. So that you’ll talk positively about math to your kids early on.
I’m passionate about math so that future generations can view math as normal and that everyone does it. So they can see it for what it really is.
Thanks for asking,
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