Dealing with the fear of being a boring teacher.


Do Me a Favor

and stop saying things that start with, “Mathematicians like…”

Usually this ends with:

  • …to be lazy.
  • …not to deal with real world problems.
  • …to find the easiest way.

This exact same kind of language would be label bigoted in the social studies classroom down the hall.

No, it’s not ok to not learn things, but if we keep separating professional math from school math, that’s all we’ll get.

Math is the art of thought. You can have a thought, whatever that means, and math is the best way to write it down. Many of my students deride that kind of comment, mostly because they’re used to people positing bonkers-ass statements like those listed above, which engenders a separation between the way kids think and the way the great ineffable Mathematician’s think.

My students grappled with the geometry of a sphere yesterday, mostly because some girl claimed that there are things that are always true, and that’s why they make books: so we can have answers.

Some serious math happened. What are the internal angles of a triangle that lives on a sphere?

It took some pretty serious wood chopping to finally say, as the bell rang, well, I guess it depends on how big the ball is.

That’s not laziness, easiness, or avoiding application, that’s just using your noodle to think about what it would be like to live on a noodle.

Happy Hunting!

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Shawn Cornally • November 10, 2012

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