What makes a good maths question? If you are a student facing exams, you might (understandably) say that good means easy. But if you’re doing maths for fun, or are a professional mathematician, your answer is going to be different. An easy question is boring, but you also wouldn’t want to gnaw your teeth out at something that is completely inaccessible. What mathematicians like most are questions that lead to new insights, to new ways of looking at things, or pose a completely new type of problem. Asking “good” questions is an important part of doing maths. But where do these good questions come from?
…mathematics is so rich and infinite that it is impossible to learn it systematically, and if you wait to master one topic before moving on to the next, you’ll never get anywhere. Instead, you’ll have tendrils of knowledge extending far from your comfort zone. Then you can later backfill from these tendrils, and extend your comfort zone; this is much easier to do than learning “forwards”.
Sexism in the tech world
If you’re interested in reading about women in technology, or really, any STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) profession, you should read this comic: Ping Pong Theory on Sexism in the Tech World
It’s really quite true. I can’t say that I have ALWAYS experienced the same kind of behaviour at the office, but maybe it’s because I’m from Canada, or just lucky.
I will say that I HAVE…
I know it’s trendy to fight the system and cry that we are all becoming slaves of technology, but this attitude overlooks that computers and phones are tools for communicating. When someone thinks I’m an idiot smiling at a machine, I’m actually smiling at my girlfriend who is 10000 miles away and whom I would have never met if not for these newfangled electronics. As they say: when the wise man points to the moon, the fool looks at the finger.
This is a topic that I’ve been wanting to tackle for a while now; much credit to this excellent post for bringing it to the front of my brain.
clap for them
This new ad shows how girls are discouraged from science and engineering both directly and indirectly.
SUBMISSION: “My 8 year old daughter took a science class for girls. It is encouraging girls to learn all about science. She felt so empowered to write a song about it - she wrote and sang the song. The video has 8 year old girls doing science experiments as the song plays in the background. I really hope you enjoy it! We’d love to encourage other little girls to become interested in science and feel ‘extraordinary’ doing so!”
This is awesome. This girl is going places.
How can we do a better job of teaching kids math? A different curriculum? New pedagogical strategies? Personalized instruction through technology? All these worthy ideas have their adherents, but another method — reducing math anxiety — may both improve performance and help kids enjoy math more.