Earlier this week, I asked the class I am currently teaching (as part of my student teaching) to come up with two “interesting questions” about the section we are working on in Year 7 mathematics (equivalent to USA Grade 6). The section is on graphs and number lines. I wanted to get them thinking about their own curiosity in the area of mathematics, to see if I could spark some out-of-the-box thinking and give them some personalized motivation.
I took a few of their questions during class the other day, and these are what three of them came up with:
- “When do you connect to points of a graph with a straight line?”
- “Can you round negative numbers?”
- “Who invented the less than (<) and greater than (>) signs?”
I was quite impressed with these questions. While I could answer the first (it depends on the context!) I had to think about the second and had no idea for the third.
Rounding negatives seems simple enough: but does the convention of rounding up when we have a five in the positive numbers (e.g., rounding 1.5 to 2) stay when we round negatives? Since 1.5 rounded to the nearest whole is 2, wouldn’t it be intuitive to say that we should round -1.5 to -2? But if we round up as per the convention with positives, we’d round -1.5 to -1! (That’s an exclamation mark, not a factorial.)
As for the last question, research indicated that the inventor was Thomas Harriot in 1631 - however the other inequality signs (less than or equal to/greater than or equal to) cam about in 1670 as introduced by John Wallis.
If at first you don’t succeed, move on to the next question
She thinks she is helping me study
but this makes turning the pages a little complicated.
What a cutie.
whaaaa this is adorable
fuckin cutie pie
D’awwwwww. That is not how you math, snakeypants
omg and she’s just looking at the camera like ‘see? see? I did good, right’ ALFJLASD
While I realize that some just aren’t ‘gifted’ in mathematics, and the author is cracking down too hard at people who aren’t inherently good/don’t enjoy math-
I still found this hilarious, and a great read.
I want to say this to the next person who says “Math Sucks/I Hate Math” when I tell them how much I love math. This entire thing. Or maybe just “Math doesn’t suck, you do.”
I cringed at the beginning—failing at math due to failure at being able to follow instructions—because that just begs for the type of “learning” that is memorizing an algorithm without comprehending why it works. However, there are some interesting points made later on in spite of the aggressive attitude the piece is written in.
I realize now that ATLA pretty much a symbolic retelling of the story of my childhood
The latest Thought Catalogue article is something very close to my heart. Even if you hate maths, hopefully reading the article will at least get you to ask why. Most likely is that it’s because of the way you were taught.
I am one of the rare people who has gone through life loving all things mathematical and I put that down to being unconventional in my approach to problems. In early primary school we had times tables stamps which we had to do in class. The seven times tables for example would be a list of 7x1, 7x2, 7x3, 7x4, etc. all the way to 12. I have a vivid memory of figuring out that just adding seven to the last answer was much easier and faster than actually working out/remembering what the answer is. At the time I never told anyone what I was doing because I felt like I was cheating. In hindsight, I realise that my being “smart” or “good at maths” was nothing to do with knowledge/memory, but simply this ability to assess problems independently of how I was taught and to find the most efficient way of solving them.
Martin Erickson’s Beautiful Mathematicslooks to inspire motivation in its readers—including high school and college students—by presenting a wide variety of examples of beauty in mathematics, via
- Imaginative Words (e.g. Waterfall of Primes)
- Intriguing Images (e.g. Bulging Hyperspheres)
- Captivating Formulas (e.g. Smallest Taxicab Number)
- Delightful Theorems (e.g. Polynomial Symmetries)
- Pleasing Proofs (e.g. Triangles with Given Area and Perimeter)
- Elegant Solutions (e.g. Making a Million)
- Creative Problems (e.g. Binary Matrix Game)
Erickson promises that there is something new in the book for everyone.