Throughout high school, I saw myself as a “math person”. I followed the formulas, paid attention, and achieved great grades. My love for the subject had me apply for mathematics in university because I knew that it was an asset to my resumé and I wanted to continue playing with numbers.
To my surprise, first year of algebra and calculus at McMaster University annihilated my confidence and it became my first experience with failure in mathematics. It devastated me. To have to leave a subject to ensure graduation was a lot to bear my first year. I still look back on that experience and wish things had been different.
Being an educator for elementary students and engaging in a lot of professional learning around mathematics, I now understand that how I was taught hindered my ability to understand the maths conceptually. I would repeat the same operation and follow the steps and then complete assignments or a test that was identical to what we had practised over and over and it became ingrained.
As I sat reading Sunil Singh‘s book, Pi of Life The Hidden Happiness of Mathematics, I was constantly reminded of this. There is so much I do not know about mathematics and will never know. The beauty of mathematics is just that. When Singh spoke of individuals within the mathematics realm spending years upon years solving one problem, I asked myself how is that we can teach 5 strands of mathematics in 10 months and do it justice? We need to rethink how we facilitate mathematics learning while remaining within the boundaries of the curriculum. I believe it is achievable.
I am not going to recall what was written in the book because I believe it should be a required read for educators coming into the profession and those currently in the profession. The Pi of Life is eye-opening, thoughtful, practical and the words flow with an ease. I will point out that there are some mathematical concepts Sunil Singh spoke of that challenged my thinking or that I wished I had had a math buddy to solve the problem with to truly understand it!
Yours in learning,