Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Math Circle Chicago

I want to start a math circle in Chicago. If anyone is interested in this, please email me at hamcferron AT yahoo DOT com.

I've been reading Out of the Labyrinth: Setting Mathematics Free by Robert and Ellen Kaplan and the book is really great. Here is their website:

I think bringing the joy back to mathematics is really important for me personally. I remember being in school as a young person and I think there were a few beliefs that were not very helpful in learning and doing mathematics.

I thought that if I didn't understand the topic that I wasn't innately built for mathematics.

This caused me a lot of trouble, because I so desperately wanted to do mathematics that I would resist talking and asking questions because I feared being labeled as not innately built for mathematics. This was really not helpful because as I later learned, it is essential that you speak up when you don't understand something. What I have found to be true, is that when I'm first learning something I'm always lost and I need to talk about it to others. During this "FUZZY" period where I'm lost is when I'm learning. Just because it is "FUZZY" for me, does not mean that I innately wasn't built for mathematics. We are all innately built for mathematics. It is a myth that some of us can't think logically and can't understand math and that if you don't understand then you're not built to understand. Understanding is only in the want to understand. If a person wants to understand math then all they have to do is put the energy forth to think about it for some time. If they want it, it is there for them, but all mathematicians must go through not knowing before they know and when they don't know, it is imperative that they speak up and discuss their "fuzziness" in order to move to understanding. If you think that math, if it is fuzzy, is innately out of your reach, then this is not helpful in learning math but instead is a big gate that will keep you from the joy of mathematics forever. TEAR DOWN the gate and by all means have fun doing it!

Being comfortable with the fuzzy state that comes before the knowing/understanding state, is key to doing mathematics and computer science.

The math circle technique seems like a really fun way to get comfortable with this state in a non-competitive group enviornment.

I hope to do math circles in Chicago with adults and with kids. I hope to help bring joy back to math and smash all the unhelpful myths that have kept myself and others from daily math fun for long enough. Math is for everyone. Everyone can do it and it is awesome fun.


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