don't make students hate math!

In my previous post I implied, inadvertently, that we should only teach useful math. That was not my point. My point was that we should not teach math if the effect of that teaching is to cause most students to hate it. Of course if we could teach it such that the effect was to cause most students to love it, I would be all for teaching it!


don't teach math!

In a nice conversation about writing for education, Adam Gidwitz (the author of A Tale Dark and Grimm) pointed me to The Mathematician's Lament. The book makes (much more clearly than I) a point I have been making informally for years: If you want students to know and love math, you definitely should not teach it in school! (Same for literature.) The mathematics requirements in school empty the subject of its meaning and point, and are useless to boot. How many non-scientists use the quadratic formula, ever? Discovering the formula would be fun, using it is a drag (and exceedingly rare).