FIRST, A QUOTE
Bertrand Russell, the famous philosopher, logician, and mathematician, wrote about learning algebra as a boy:
I was made to learn by heart: "The square of the sum of two numbers is equal to the sum of their squares increased by twice their product." I had not the vaguest idea what this meant and when I could not remember the words, my tutor threw the book at my head, which did not stimulate my intellect in any way.

MATH IS BEAUTIFUL
For some reason, most math teachers, school districts and standardized test creators have this big secret they don't tell any of their students: math is beautiful. I actually knew that math was beautiful when I was in elementary school. I went to a Montessori school, and I loved doing geometry, using a peg board to do multiplication, and laying out bead chains to learn about numbers. Unfortunately, I didn't know that this was math. I did know that the timed math facts we had to do (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division with numbers up to twelve) were math, and I hated those. I was slow at math facts, and they were boring.
It wasn't until my junior year of high school that I started to realize again that math was beautiful. I had a fantastic calculus teacher who thought that math was incredibly exciting and interesting. At first, I think we all thought she was crazy. But little by little, I started to figure out what she was so excited about. I still remember her coming in to my art history class while we were looking at slides. She had a book with her, and she sat down next to me in the back of the room. "Hey, Kelly," she whispered, "Check this out. I want to show this to your art teacher." She showed me the book she was holding. It contained photos of elegant ceramic sculptures. Under each photo was an equation. "They're 3D functions," she said. "This artist sculpts them out of clay." They were beautiful.
It wasn't until my junior year of high school that I started to realize again that math was beautiful. I had a fantastic calculus teacher who thought that math was incredibly exciting and interesting. At first, I think we all thought she was crazy. But little by little, I started to figure out what she was so excited about. I still remember her coming in to my art history class while we were looking at slides. She had a book with her, and she sat down next to me in the back of the room. "Hey, Kelly," she whispered, "Check this out. I want to show this to your art teacher." She showed me the book she was holding. It contained photos of elegant ceramic sculptures. Under each photo was an equation. "They're 3D functions," she said. "This artist sculpts them out of clay." They were beautiful.
SMART HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH IT
I've been extremely lucky to have had good experiences with beautiful math. When most people hear I studied math in college, and they grimace and say, "Ugh, I hate math. You must be really smart." Smart has nothing to do with it. I studied math because I think it is interesting. I love the patterns it makes and how beautifully it all fits together. I was just lucky I had teachers who gave me the chance to see these patterns. I wish those people who say they hate math had had the same teachers I had.
When you tell people you studied art, they don't say, "Ugh, I hate art." People don't say, "I hate music." What a ridiculous idea! You might dislike a particular painting or a particular musician or even a particular style, but no one hates all art or all music. I'd wager that by the same token, nobody hates all math. Most people simply haven't been given the chance to appreciate any sort of math.
I hope you find that this blog can give you or your child the opportunity to appreciate some math. This kind of math can be interesting for all ages, so enjoy!
When you tell people you studied art, they don't say, "Ugh, I hate art." People don't say, "I hate music." What a ridiculous idea! You might dislike a particular painting or a particular musician or even a particular style, but no one hates all art or all music. I'd wager that by the same token, nobody hates all math. Most people simply haven't been given the chance to appreciate any sort of math.
I hope you find that this blog can give you or your child the opportunity to appreciate some math. This kind of math can be interesting for all ages, so enjoy!