Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Math Quotes

One of my hobbies is collecting quotes.  I love it.  I even found a quote to explain why I love quotes:

"I love quotations because it is a joy to find thoughts one might have, beautifully expressed with much authority by someone recognized wiser than oneself."  -Marlene Dietrich

Here is one that is among my favorites:

"The simplest schoolboy is now familiar with truths for which Archimedes would have sacrificed his life."  Ernest Renan 

I like this quote because it reminds me about what I am teaching my kids.  I have a whole long list of facts for them to memorize, and if I wanted to, I could just spout them out and make the kids write 'em and learn 'em.  

But, the truth is, that list of facts represents years and years of real mathematics work.  Math work that is relevant and interesting, not just created to make high school kids groan.  

So, when I read this quote, it reminds me to let kids 'experience' math and come to their own understanding of why math is the way it is.   I want to let them learn from trial and error what the most efficient way to solve an equation is.  I want them to decide that arrows and tick marks and such on geometric diagrams are worth learning and using, because they make things so much easier.  I want them to decide that we need a word for "the side of the triangle that isn't next to the angle"  I want them to know that true math knowledge is hard earned, but so worth it.  I don't know if that was it's intention, but this quote reminds me of that.  

1 comment:

  1. I love your quote! (Both of them, actually.)

    I like to call what you're talking about in the last paragraph the "messy side" of math. I think part of the reason my students hate proofs is because they look so clean and streamlined and polished in the book and the answer key. They feel like they have to produce that right off the bat. Everything else in our textbooks is the same way. Polished. Sterile. Boring.

    The messy stuff is the interesting stuff.