Sunday, December 9, 2012

Rekindling why I teach mathematics

I haven't blogged for a long time, and I'll explain that in relatively short time. But in the mean time, I have a brief thought to share.

I've really, really been struggling lately to find my passion for teaching pure mathematics. I'm very passionate about teaching computational thinking skills and statistics - ideas and methods that clearly are relevant to developing an informed citizenry - but I've been questioning the point of teaching apathetic teenagers rather abstract mathematics.

Well, I've found the beginning of a cure in, of all places, a graphic novel. This weekend I've been reading Logicomix, a story about the life and ideas of Bertrand Russell.

For those of who don't know, or have forgotten, Russell's main role in the story of mathematics was his attempt to create a solid foundation of all of mathematics in his "Principia Mathematica", co-authored with Alfred Whitehead. This graphic novel does a beautiful job of connecting the ideas in mathematics to the questions that make our existence so wonderfully interesting.

I need to remember, I'm teaching ideas. And these ideas have a context; they are part of the story of real people attempting to more fully understand our place in the universe.

I haven't been teaching that at all.

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