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Help someone else be a "math person"!

According to Miles Kimball in this article How to turn every child into a math person, the "secret" to becoming a math person is simply to "act like someone who loves math"!

Best of all: spend time doing math in the kinds of ways people who love math spend time doing math. This hypothesis has three elements:

Why does this work?

  1. For anyone, the more time spent thinking about and working on math, the higher the level of mathematical skill achieved.
  2. Those who love math spend more time thinking about and working on math.
  3. There is a genetic component to how much someone loves math.

This echoes Mahatma Gandhi's quotation

Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.

It's that simple, really! Miles goes on to proclaim:

It is time for all of us to take the responsibility for learning math and doing what we can to help others learn math

So, let's get the ball rolling. Which mathematical tangent has been your favorite?

Note by Calvin Lin
2 years, 9 months ago

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I've always said that the best way to train to become a good skier is to ski. The best way to train to become good at math is to spend time thinking about and working on math. But that's hard to do if you don't love it, and most people don't. Is love of mathematics genetic? I don't know. But for sure, the way math is being taught in schools today seems designed to make people hate it. I would have hated it too, if I had to put up with the way it's done in most of America today. Math is art, and there's creativity, experimentation, and freedom that's inherent in art and math. Schools here in America don't do nearly enough enough to encourage those things. Bureaucrats who don't understand math or even hate it must have decided on the curriculum.

It's very encouraging, though, to learn that the US Math Team took 2nd place in the International Math Olympiad. We really should go interview that team and ask them what helped them to win---after decades of dismal performance by American students. Michael Mendrin · 2 years, 9 months ago

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@Michael Mendrin Some people work on math just because of school. Some people even don't understand how to use it in real life. Commentator of football was said "Football is not math the game just flip the losers won now." I just think it is influence d people thought too and i think this is wrong thought. In my opinion the loosers might win because have chances whether it is small one. I'm not an expert like Calvin Lin or Michael Mendrin but with my limited knowledge I try to explain. Correct me if I wrong..

So what is wrong with school? I didn't said that school is bad for all but the prove is many people take science gone wrong and misunderstood. How about Genius people in here? How much time do they learn in one day? What do they do? Do they take school? Is school have great meaning for learning for them or they learning invidualy? i've seen 'children' about 13 years old with averages lv.5 brilliant on many topics. I just wondered how they learn or it is just gift like childstar. Hafizh Ahsan Permana · 2 years, 9 months ago

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@Michael Mendrin How do you know that most people don't love maths?? Anuj Shikarkhane · 2 years, 9 months ago

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@Anuj Shikarkhane I said it in the same way I would have said, "most people don't like to exercise". It's just a common observation, not a proven scientific fact. Michael Mendrin · 2 years, 9 months ago

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@Michael Mendrin Oh!,I thought you were trying to prove that most people don't love maths. Anuj Shikarkhane · 2 years, 9 months ago

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@Anuj Shikarkhane because Math has been a difficult subject for decades Riaz Ahmad Baboojee · 2 years, 9 months ago

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@Riaz Ahmad Baboojee But if you practise, everything is easy. Anuj Shikarkhane · 2 years, 9 months ago

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"You're only given one little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it."---Robin Williams. Michael Mendrin · 2 years, 9 months ago

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Can anyone suggest me any math book which is enjoyable Megh Choksi · 2 years, 7 months ago

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@Megh Choksi What topic? Agnishom Chattopadhyay · 2 years, 6 months ago

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@Agnishom Chattopadhyay Geometry and Algebra @Agnishom Chattopadhyay Megh Choksi · 2 years, 6 months ago

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i think this case rely on the ability of teachers school.patientce needed with students who dont like math or hated not punished but helped them develop their performance so as not becoming disappointed in their life. Abdullah Ahmed · 2 years, 9 months ago

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Mahatama Gandhi's quotation was really very good. PROUD TO BE AN INDIAN AND OF COURSE A PART OF THIS COMMUNITY!

Anyhow, I wanted to know WHAT ACCORDING TO YOU IS MATHEMATICS? WHAT IS INTELLIGENCE?

@Michael Mendrin I'll tag you here because I asked you the same questions. Maybe this a good note to give me the answer(or opinion, actually)! Kartik Sharma · 2 years, 9 months ago

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@Kartik Sharma I could give you pithy quotes about "what is mathematics, what is intelligence?", but, seriously, that question is such a weighty one, it deserves its own discussion note. To start somewhere, my opinion is that cosmic reality follows mathematical reality. I agree with Einstein on that one. Michael Mendrin · 2 years, 9 months ago

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Well, not to be pessimistic or anything but there are just those talented geniuses that no matter how much you practice you will never touch their mathematical grace. doesn't stop math from being a great hobby though. Johnson Adeleke · 2 years, 9 months ago

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@Johnson Adeleke That logic is flawed.
- You can never match the wealth of Bill Gates, Warren Buffet or Steve Jobs. Does that mean that you give up all your earning potential and become a bum?
- You can never match the atheletic prowess of Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Michael Phelps, etc. Does that mean that you give up all sports and merely do it as a hobby?

I've seen numerous cases where hard work far outstrips talent. It is true that at middle school / high school, talent can give you a strong initial advantage in terms of interest in the subject + willingness to learn about it. However, innate talent will only get you so far, and if you do not put the work in, you will quickly lose out in University. Even in training for the International Mathematical Olympiad, the hardworking kid that puts in 4 hours of work each and everyday will quickly overtake the lazy genius.

To quote Thomas Edison (one of my favorites),

Genius is \(1\%\) inspiration and \( 99\% \) hard work.

Calvin Lin Staff · 2 years, 9 months ago

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@Calvin Lin But there are geniuses who do try hard as well. Now competing against that would just be futile and when people say it's not all about the glory, it actually really is. To finish that unsolved problem elegantly or to add to the vast mathematical knowledge we have already would be WAY better if one was a genius andcould solved problems faster. I hope it doesn't look like I have an angry tone haha Johnson Adeleke · 2 years, 9 months ago

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@Johnson Adeleke I believe you have to study the 'right way' to make mathematics not a suffering and to love doing it. I'm not fast when thinking of solutions but if the topic is hard I find or create my OWN way of understanding it so I won't remember technically presented rules and complicated details. I want every topic simplified in my mind. I prefer non-technical explanation for myself. I also try to find generalizations so I can throw away some lessons that I already learned and get larger chance to remember so many things by remembering fewer details. I'm not a genius. I just love math like other people love solving crossword puzzles and sudoku. If a topic is very hard, rushing to learn it will make you hurt yourself. I feel sad when I have to take weeks or months to understand just few pages or even 1 paragraph or 1 formula in a math topic. Maybe, for some people, that's the only option to learn it. I am always amazed and happy after I solved problems using a technique that I recently learned specially for math problems that occurs in my work.

In school we rush things. Most of the time and most student, don't have to time to love what they are doing. They just do it and pass technical requirements to finish a year or graduate. Some seek ways to skip and fake their result. For me absorbing math slowly and smoothly like you're just playing and enjoying it is a better way to be a math person. If you're not enjoying, try easier problems and topics that you can solve and understand at the moment. Math techniques that can solve real world problems are often hard. But they're worthy and amazing when you learned them and witnessed that they work!

For me, it's always better if you learn math not because to be the best or one of the best. You do it because it's just amazing like playing video games. You just sit and beat the boss! Esrael Santillan · 2 years, 9 months ago

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@Johnson Adeleke I don't approve Anuj Shikarkhane · 2 years, 9 months ago

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AFTER SEEING THIS POST , I WANT TO DO TO CALVIN LIN, A PRANAM!!!!! Subrata Saha · 2 years, 9 months ago

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How to turn every child into a math person

That cannot be a good idea. You'll end up destroying creativity and you will loose all inspiration in the world that exists Agnishom Chattopadhyay · 2 years, 9 months ago

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@Agnishom Chattopadhyay In no way does "turning every (a) child into a math person" result in "destroying (his/her) creativity". Would you say that your creativity has been destroyed as you develop your interest in math?

On the contrary, if you read the article, Miles is encouraging adults / teachers to "encourage their students to follow a “slow-cooked math” approach where they can dig in and wrap their heads around what is going on in the math, without feeling judged for not understanding instantly",and arguing for the need for "many more adult leaders for math clubs for elementary and middle school kids". The idea is to inspire interest in different areas, as opposed to shove mathematical rhetoric down their throat. Calvin Lin Staff · 2 years, 9 months ago

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@Calvin Lin I remember trying to explain to a high school student, who was having trouble understanding Euclidean geometry and the two-column method of proof. His textbook was full of clutter, but I pointed out to him the theorems highlighted in color, and told him to imagine that theorems are much like tools you can use to do a particular job--and you'd want to be familiar with the tools, so you'd know which to use and when. Unfortunately, rhetoric at school killed that way of looking at it, and he ended up getting lost in "rules" and protocols, the point of which he never could understand. Basic geometry and its utility got buried under legalese.

I think it's a great mistake to teach students geometry by first starting them on standard Euclidean geometry and the two-column method of proof. They should first have a good idea of practical everyday geometry before getting into that. It's like teaching Latin first before English, on the theory that Latin historically came first before English. Michael Mendrin · 2 years, 9 months ago

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@Calvin Lin

Would you say that your creativity has been destroyed as you develop your interest in math?

No, my creativity has been enhanced. However, lets say Mr. X is a good painter. If I make him a math person, he might be able to produce mediocre math. However, the loss would be that the world would be deprived from the quality paintings.

Why not allow people to be a person of what they like? Agnishom Chattopadhyay · 2 years, 9 months ago

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@Agnishom Chattopadhyay Would yoiu have said the same thing if the question had been, "How to turn every child into a music person"? Michael Mendrin · 2 years, 9 months ago

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@Michael Mendrin Sure! turning every child into a music person will destroy variety and creativity all throughout the world. Personally, I do not like music a lot Agnishom Chattopadhyay · 2 years, 9 months ago

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@Agnishom Chattopadhyay Oh, all right, I guess you've made your point. The distinction between voluntary and involuntary. But I think the spirit of this discussion is about at least trying to sell the art of math to students. How would they know what's fun unless they've been exposed to it in a fun way? Michael Mendrin · 2 years, 9 months ago

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@Michael Mendrin Hmmm

The right article with the wrong name Agnishom Chattopadhyay · 2 years, 9 months ago

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@Agnishom Chattopadhyay Well, yes, it's like saying, "How to turn evey child into a success story". Not everybody wants to be a success story. Michael Mendrin · 2 years, 9 months ago

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@Agnishom Chattopadhyay Ah yes, I see what you mean.

He is not advocating to force everyone to "major" in mathematics. His main argument is that "people who say they are not math people, do poorly in math. By simply changing that attitude, their performance can increase without a change in their ability level (as yet)."

At it's heart, it is about "The more you like something, the better you perform (or perceive you perform) on it." Calvin Lin Staff · 2 years, 9 months ago

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Comment deleted Aug 12, 2014

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@Finn Hulse The question is how to inspire people to like math?? Mardokay Mosazghi · 2 years, 9 months ago

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