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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 report card. …


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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 of remote learning, and the emotional anxiety of living in a pandemic world and the generally unchanged expectations of education means the grace period is over. And that unreflective thinking of continuing to ham fist 20th century ideas through 21st century technology, which was excused in the early going, is now an albatross around the necks of students and teachers. …


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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 the movie has become, regrettably, less fiction because science/climate has retaliated against humans for wreaking industrial havoc on the planet. …


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Brazil’s Sepultura: Fourth Decade of Existence

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.


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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 the current pandemic — two pillars of truth seem to be emerging. …


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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.


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Kids hating math isn’t new. Those kids who grow up to be adults who hate math isn’t new. As such, society having a historically abrasive relationship with mathematics isn’t new. I don’t even have the interest/patience to list those reasons. You can’t find them all over the internet. You can also find remedies to cure all these ailments. It’s a bloody strange situation. We are the deliverers of this pain, and at the same time we want to suggest strategies to make the pain go away. Its like kicking somebody in the shin and then offering them ice right after. …


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Odd and even numbers. Hide and Seek. Euler Characteristic. Which one doesn’t belong? Is that the question I could be asking? Actually, it’s not. Each, is related to number, game, and graph theory, respectively. And, they are all accessible as early Kindergarten.

Odd and even numbers are definitely done. Kids might play hide and seek at recess. And, Euler Characteristic is done much too late.


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This is my third and final article about Anthony Bourdain’s influence on me as a person and math educator.

There are probably over 100 images I could have used for the thumbnail for this article. No exaggeration. I could have used a 70’s black and white picture of young chef, unsure of his place in the world, with a cigarette dangling at the proper Keith Richards angle of 45 degrees. I could have used some of his last pictures, which definitely show the physical toll that his losing battle of depression was having on him. …


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When I left teaching in 2013, I never envisioned going back. Teaching had become reduced to the inert bureaucracy that I feared when I started teaching 20 years earlier. I had nothing left in the tank to make it to retirement.

As such, I certainly couldn’t have imagined going back in a virtual environment, a place devoid of the organic grit, charm, and humanness of the “real” classroom — the only thing that put a smile on my face at the end of my teaching career. …

About

Sunil Singh

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

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