16 Oct, 19 tweets, 5 min read
MATH🧮

We live in the age of infinite information.

But having information doesn’t mean we know what to do with it.

This is the main issue w how we are taught math.
2/ Caitlin Flanagan called algebra stupid in this tweet- a sentiment many of us share!

Eric Weinstein (a Math Guy!) responded & listed out all the cool things that math encompasses

Eric is right. Math is incredible. So why do most of us hate it?

3/ gracie.ham's viral TikTok vid addressed this - she was asking the q's most of us have been thinking forever

Why is math, math? What is the truth of math?
tiktok.com/@gracie.ham/vi…
4/In the 3rd grade, I had a "bad batch of math" & was scrambling for the next 10 years to keep up.

I lost the learning, the understanding of the principles

I never learned how to multiply or divide.

I still don’t really know how, honestly.
5/ Bc of the way that school is taught - a sequence of subjects that advance as you age- if you miss out on one step, you fall

There was always a semi-permanent gap in knowledge, simply because I had missed a rung on the math ladder

Most of us have had a similar experience ☹️
6/Our education can shape our worldview of ourselves.

A lot of us live in fear of mathematics.

We think that it’s something that we aren’t able to do.

We live in a world where we avoid it completely.

But Math is so much more than we think it is.
7/Math is interconnected

If you can solve for the area of a triangle, you should be able to solve for the area of a rectangle.

But we are often taught things in a disjoint fashion, so the connections between everything gets lost
8/Math is specific

You can't really get away with 'rounding errors' here. Your answer is either right, or it's not (most of the time).

That specificity (or lack thereof) can be overwhelming, especially if the process doesn't make sense
9/Math is art

Math has patterns, and ultimately can be a route to creativity and expression.

Paul Lockhart wrote the very famous “A Mathematician’s Lament” about the importance of math as art.

maa.org/external_archi…
10/Lockhart tells us of a world where music is taught like math is:

Worksheets & memorization, preparing for standardized musical tests, and the despair of the students — the students are bored and terrible and performing poorly

The world is Paint-by-numbers.
11/Lockhart the way we teach Math is "Paint-by-numbers" and we never give people the chance to explore the artistic integrity of the subject

The fact that it’s being taught as a prescribed ritual of memorization and testing is the reason that “math class is stupid and boring”.
12/Lockhart highlights that we miss out on figuring out WHY the area of a triangle is 1/2 x b x h.

We are just expected to know that it is, and apply it moving forward.

No creative freedom, no application to unknown, just bland rinse and repeat.
13/We discount creativity & independence during the mathematical process & instead place value on the outcome

Who can test the quickest and solve the fastest?

We get to plug-and-chug. We don’t get ownership over math like we do with arts and science. Math should be fun.
14/Data analysis is the language of math

It takes those concepts that “we will never use again” and building them into narratives and stories.
15/We all do data analysis

We calculate probabilities & count occurrences

We quantify relationships (often unknowningly)

We conduct cost-benefit analysis every single day.

We think about tradeoffs.
16/Math is also TOUGH

It requires work. And if you miss a step along the way, you are moving against the current.

Even Pascal & Fermat struggled, as noted in their famous letters to one another.

Math is an art- It is not free of struggle, and we shouldn’t give up on it.
17/Imagine a world where Bertrand Russell, a famous mathematician (amongst many other things) gave up on math!!!

But how many young mathematicians have we lost due to what Russell describes above?
18/Math is not the pursuit of one great truth, but our own individual mathematical truth that allows us to think and process in an artistic and creative way

Math is art.

We are meant to use the world to be curious, explore and question. Math allows us to do this.
19/ I wrote a blog post about this here :) thanks to the @CompoundWriting community for helping me flesh out some ideas!!

kylascanlon.com/2020/10/13/we-…

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