Every unit in precalc, my kids get a new mathematician to research for extra credit on their unit test. Their assignment is very simple:
- Find a quote by the mathematician.
- State the quote in your own words.
- Defend why you chose that quote.
- Find three interesting pieces of biographical information on the mathematician.
It’s one of my small attempts to incorporate English and history into the math classroom. Because I preach that numeracy is as important as literacy. So if I want my English teacher friends to support my subject, I must show enthusiasm for all forms of learning also. [Stepping off my soapbox.]
Anyway, I was reading the kids’ extra credit on Sonja Kovalevsky today, and came across this one:
Yes, yes, all the yesssss.
I was listening to an interview of a mathematician on NPR earlier this week, and the radio host said something like, “The people who seem to talk about beauty the most are mathematicians.”
I think I laughed out loud (out of joy) when I heard that.
It’s so true: mathematics is gorgeous. Order, simplicity, patterns–to name a few–it’s all math. And it makes me absolutely giddy knowing some of my students are starting to see the mysterious, intricate beauty that is mathematics.
I got one of the sweetest letters I’ve ever received from a student today for Teacher Appreciation Week. One of the things he said was “Your kindness inspired me to help others.”
I have these lofty goals of helping kids become better people and encouraging them to live selfless lives. But sometimes I wonder if it’s all just feel-good talk with no real substance, no practicality.
And then I’m reminded: just be kind.