Thursday, November 8, 2012

Vi Hart's Revolutionary Mathematics

For years now I've believed that Mathematics has an aesthetic, creative, and joyful component to it that is sadly ignored for the most part in the way we teach it; especially at the high school level. I have also believed that one of the main reasons why students at the K - 12 level, as well as the 13 - 16 level, dislike it so much is that it is seen, and taught for the most part, as a functional, objective discipline with little intrinsic value.

In math education there tends to be no equivalent of  poetry, creative writing, literature or anything that really helps children develop a sense of enjoyment or creativity. Imagine if reading and writing were taught from a totally functional perspective? One of the most remarkable things is the number of times students will ask of a particular math skill or concept "when am I ever going to need this" compared with the number of times a student will ask the same question of something related to creative writing.

One person who is doing something about this is Vi Hart, a self proclaimed mathmusician. She could also be called a mathartist or a mathologist as what she does flings wide the boundaries of  what we traditionally think of when we hear the word 'math'. You can also now see her videos on the Kahn Academy site which is a place many people go if they are having a difficulty understanding a particular mathematical idea.

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