As I sit here in one of the most beautiful places on the planet, Lake Powell, I am in awe of creation. The lake changes constantly because the water level is always going up and down. There are always new rock formations to discover and places to see. I am blessed enough to get to spend a good deal of time here every summer and it doesn’t matter how many times I have been here, I am amazed at the beauty and wonder of this place each and every time. Beauty and wonder draw us in.
We have taken everything beautiful out of math in our education system. It’s no wonder that people say, “I hate math.” In the current teach for a test mentality we don’t have time to explore how math applies to everything around us. Math is the most disconnected discipline we teach yet it is in everything around us. We can predict the weather because of the patterns that exist. We watch satellite TV because math has made it possible to track an object in space to exact precision and that object sends a signal to a small dish on our house. We play video games that are created using mathematical algorithms. We know how much Lake Powell is going to come up because we can calculate how many acre feet of water per minute is flowing into the lake, how much the lake is using to create electricity, and what elevation the lake is at currently. We maximize our profit and minimize our loss in business.
The problem is that everyone who is teaching math, including me, has been taught it using a “this is how you do it” approach. We fall back into the pattern of teaching things the way we were taught ourselves. I want to teach differently. I want to think differently.
I am making it my mission to bring beauty and wonder back in my mathematics classroom!