Tuesday, August 11, 2020

#MTBoSBLaugust - Why Do We Learn Mathematics?

I love this TED Talk by Arthur Benjamin on The Magic of Fibonacci Numbers. I particularly like the introduction. Here's how it begins.
"So why do we learn mathematics? Essentially, for three reasons: calculation, application, and last, and unfortunately least in terms of the time we give it, inspiration. 
Mathematics is the science of patterns, and we study it to learn how to think logically, critically and creatively, but too much of the mathematics that we learn in school is not effectively motivated, and when our students ask, "Why are we learning this?" then they often hear that they'll need it in an upcoming math class or on a future test. But wouldn't it be great if every once in a while we did mathematics simply because it was fun or beautiful or because it excited the mind?"
Learn more about these ideas and the beauty of Fibonacci numbers in Benjamin's talk.

I've been a puzzle-solver and game player for as long as I can remember. I love to do math for fun. I want more students to do math for fun and experience the joy of mathematics. I want them to experience the rush of exuberance and confidence  that comes with finding the solution to a challenging problem. I want more elementary teachers to see the value of puzzling through non-traditional problems and the long-term benefits it brings. I want them to make this a part of regular classroom instruction. Perhaps instruction is too strong a word. Maybe we need more general language about learning time, because students learn in more ways than just from traditional instruction. 

This notion of math as inspiration and joy and beauty is exemplified in one of my favorite videos from Cracking the Cryptic. Yes, I love math and puzzles so much that I watch others solve problems. And honestly, I believe that I have become a better problem solver since playing along and listening to Simon Anthony talk through his thinking and solution strategies.)
If you haven't seen this video, you should take some time to watch it. It's 25 minutes that will astound you. And I'll bet when it's over you'll want to go out and start solving these non-traditional sudoku. 

That's it for day 11 of #MTBoSBlaugust. I hope you'll come back tomorrow to see what else I have to share.

1 comment:

  1. I love puzzles and one of the things I'm going to miss the most about my classroom is the Puzzle Table :( Thank you for sharing!