What we learn in school

Link: What we learn in school I recently took on a remarkably talented tutee. Seeing the natural ease with which he, at 12 years old, sees deeply and sharply into all kinds of mathematical problems is a pleasure. For me, making sure this kind of student gets proper guidance is essential. Part of the reason, I’m sure, is that I …

"I was told there would be no math"

Link: “I was told there would be no math” When Sudoku came they said it didn’t involve any math, just logical thinking and pattern recognition. (No matter how we mathematicians claimed that logical thinking and pattern recognition are much closer to the heart of mathematics than arithmetic.) And here comes the cousin of Sudoku: KenKen! Is it possible that everyone …

Don’t just read it; fight it! Ask your own questions, look for your own examples, discover your own proofs. Paul Halmos

Teaching with the Socratic Method

Link: Teaching with the Socratic Method A professor of mine once said, speaking about his education, “If they had actually taught us anything, we’d all be geniuses!” And indeed, when I talk to people who hate/fear math, a bad teacher is sure to come up in the conversation somewhere. This conversation with a group of third graders about base 2 …

Awww…

Link: Awww…

Hilbert’s Hotel

Link: Hilbert’s Hotel I love this Waylay comic about Hilbert’s Hotel. She does a beautiful job of explaining the paradox succinctly, and of tapping into the sense of human (nonmathematician) frustration with the whole deal at the same time. It’s an old favorite of mine. There’s more on Hilbert’s Hotel at wikipedia. The classic version is: a hotel has an …

Sketch of my math dance piece

It’s called “What I was working on today.” I come out and aggressively challenge the audience: “I’m Dan, and I’m a math student PhD, and tonight one of you is going to come up here and solve a math problem, because you’re not dumb. You—you look nervous. This is easy—everyone can do this. You—” etc. Then I step back and …

A math op-ed, circa 1996

Link: A math op-ed, circa 1996 By Suzanne Sutton. Here’s a quote: It is among the greatest ironies of education that a subject so graceful and elegant, so able to inspire and bolster confidence, and so useful for living a joyous and effective life, should be presented in a manner that strips it of its substance and glory, and leaves …

Another meeting with my advisor

First of all, the math dance piece went quite well (at least, I had some positive feedback). In part of it I ask for questions from the audience, and I’m not sure I answered them all as well as I could have, but I was able to spiral into and beyond the question “What is the quadratic formula” to explain …

Math Dance Tonight

I’ll be premiering my math dance piece tonight when my dance group, Stimulate Dance performs. Very exciting. I also get to do my sibling piece, which I know will be okay—it’s a very likeable piece. The math piece feels like it’s a little more ambitious. Can I get people to think about mathematics during an art performance? Can I argue, …