Saturday, February 11, 2012

Maths can be Useful, Sometimes!

"When am I going to need this?" in the context of math is one of those phrases that drives me nuts. No one ever says it in a science or social studies or language arts class. We never seem to question why we need to learn these things but in math class it's different. Perhaps it's because until recently math education has been so deathly boring and difficult that students feel there had better be a good reason for all the hard work of memorizing and practicing. Things are different today in math classes, at least at the elementary school level. We now know that math has all kinds of aesthetic qualities such as pattern, symmetry, color, relationships and so on that make it a joy to explore; and not just in geometry. We now know that if students find math interesting, relevant and creative they will learn it more effectively and be more motivated to see it in their lives as just interesting and enriching rather than useful.

Today, my daughter Marie was at home helping with the Andy's Dandys boxes and suddenly let out a cry of f delight,"I just used some geometry". Although she is a musician and she teaches piano every day and so uses math just about every waking moment it was still exciting for her to use math math; the type she learned in school and that you could give a name to, such as the Pythagorean theorem. The pictures show her math and the finished product.

Andy's Dandys, by the way, is my wife Lucie's gourmet dog treat business. The business has the
wonderful mission of providing students with special needs the opportunity to develop business and work skills in their factory store in the middle of Richmond. 

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