### Thoughts About Teaching Math

I would like to say something about the way math is taught.

I am mostly self-taught in math, but I grew up around people who believed
mathematics was important, and I went on to win a math scholarship and attend MIT.
Almost every person I have ever met is content with "I was never any good at math." I
think that's because they have never seen any mathematics.

For 10 years, my wife (an educator) has been mentoring a young woman who is
struggling. She wanted me to tell her the formula for the circumference of a circle but
I refused. I wanted to hear a struggle with quantity, symmetry, and relationships. If
*this* doubles, what happens to *that*? Soon, I heard a discussion about string,
rulers, bicycle wheels, skillets, and the difficulty of measuring the diameter of a
circle. It was hard to get consistent numbers. Everything was going according to plan,
so I hid in the other room.

After several hours, the two of them came up with a theory of circles. My wife was
up till 3am producing a Shutterfly book documenting the work. (It was published, but in
a limited edition of 1). The next morning the young woman texted "It was nice that I
got to learn math."

She's 20 years old, and I think that was the first time she saw any mathematics. The
ancient Greeks would have been proud of her. She had discovered the number pi.

### Ashley and Kath Discover pi

The book as a PDF file.

### What some other people say

Back to home page.