Remarkable photo. A strange meeting of coffee and cream, creating a transient moment of the yin yang symbol.
I took that photo.
I took that photo 8 years ago. It was the coffee of my close friend and math mentor, Peter Harrison. Peter is also a practicing Buddhist. Four months after this picture was taken, I would quit teaching.
I had lost my balance.
In 2021, I am going to argue that mathematics, as viewed and digested by society, has lost its balance as well. One of my first articles on Medium that had some resonance was the one below.
When we say films are timeless, we generally are speaking to their lasting value in terms of how great and universal the story is, with messages that transcend time, and have little conflict left to resolve.
All of us wish we could say a movie like Freedom Writers(2007), based on the true story of the teacher Erin Gruwell and the over 100 students she taught to use their own words/writing to change themselves and the world, is now out of date.
Racism never has gone out of date. In fact, this movie’s “time” has never been more important than now…
The last chapter that I have to write for Chasing Rabbits: A Curious Guide to a Lifetime of Mathematical Wellness is the penultimate one, Chapter 8: Through The Looking Glass.
My writing process is scribbled and scattered, much like my life. So, it’s not a surprise that the 9 chapters in my next book were written completely out of order. You wouldn’t know that by reading the book. So, strangely, my disorder serves up order.
The chapter in question that needs my final attention is about looking at mathematics through an entirely different lens. If traditional math problems can be…
When I taught at the International School of Lausanne in Switzerland in 2005, the school had a very strict policy of banning ipods in the classroom. Even though I was a new teacher to the school, I wrote a very long letter to the Director of the school telling him why students should be allowed to listen to music in at least my math classes. Somewhat surprisingly, Simon Taylor, wholeheartedly accepted my argument, and the ban was no longer in place, and up to the discretion of the teacher.
One of the early fruits of this decision came soon after…
Twentieth century ideas about math education are dead.
Twentieth century ideas about math education are also walking around — lead feet, intrusive, and lurching — and scaring the hell out of math educators who are trying to rebuild mathematics from the ashes of the achievement-oriented/performance-driven/individualism culture.
In previous articles, I had referenced Weekend at Bernie’s, but that analogy isn’t working anymore — things aren’t funny anymore. It’s more grisly now.
Worksheets. Assignment after assignment. Unearthly discussions of grading/mark distribution. Ghostly and ghastly emphasis on tracking/streaming, and funneling into fictitious career preparedness.
Let me give you Exhibit A: My son’s updated…
When education’s house was set on fire in Spring of last year due to the global pandemic, a quick and hasty exit was required. Administrators of education could be forgiven for the next couple of months for just creating “pop-up” virtual school and learning on the fly — like the rest of the world.
Effectively, teachers were doing this:
Teachers are being forced to go back into a burning house to rescue a VHS player that doesn’t belong to them.
It’s now 2021. We are coming up to a year of students and teachers working with and through the ideas…
The first science fiction movie I saw was Planet of the Apes in the early 70’s. That final scene with Charlton Heston and The Statue of Liberty was quite a memorable gut punch for a kid — Earth with humans didn’t survive. Just a few years after that, I saw Silent Running on television. To this day, that is my favorite sci-fi film. The ending gutted me more than POTA. The last of three robots left tending to the last forest left, while Joan Baez sings in the background — emotionally devastating.
Silent Running will turn 40 next year, and…
Listening to heavy music for 40 years has brought an unquantifiable happiness to my life, and yp many of my friends as well. In recent years, there have been studies and articles on what effect this has had on people like me, who are older and have families. Here are titles of some of them.
It’s almost a year since I left Buzzmath, a great little platform that has its laboratory of creation located in Anthony Bourdain’s favorite city in Canada — Montreal. I spent a formative 5 years with the company learning everything there from content development to sales/marketing. I now work as an Advisor for Amplify and Content Creator at Mathigon, using my passion/experience with math history and storytelling in helping them build creative, engaging, and equitable content.
As I see the world of math education evolve and be affected by the maturation of our pedagogical discussions of the last decade — and…
Both Amy Alznauer and Edmund Harriss hold advanced math degrees and teach at the university level. Amy teaches number theory and calculus at Northwestern and Edmund teaches calculus, foundations, and math history.
Amy’s other main interest/talent spills over to creative writing. She has M.F.A in the subject, and has written many essays and poems that have been published. She also has a fascination with Kolams, an art form done predominately by the women of Sri Lanka.
Author of Pi of Life: The Hidden Happiness of Mathematics and Co-Author of Math Recess: Playful Learning in the Age of Disruption. Speaker. Amplify and Mathigon