What if I told you that math was beautiful, creative, and fun? What if I told you that you could find yourself fascinated by the realm of numbers and patterns?
If your childhood math experience left you confused or bored, or if you’re habitually saying, “I’m not really a math person,” this post is for you! Don’t know much about math? It’s not too late to explore this subject in new ways as you pursue your own life-long learning as an adult!
I was incredibly blessed to grow up with parents who didn’t believe in uninteresting subjects. Math was no exception! But I know that many of my peers have very different memories. For some reason, while many decide they need to deepen their understanding of history or literature in adulthood, I do not hear of very many grownups who decide to deepen their appreciation for math.
I hope this can be the inspiration you need!
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Don’t Know Much About Math? It’s more than drills!
If all you think of is dreary drills when you think of math, let’s take a moment to philosophize.
Math is a language.
Math is infinite, but also definable.
Math is not something boring teachers come up with in a laboratory; it is an intrinsic part of the world around us in all its colors and sounds and shapes. Nothing exists in this creation that is not touched and defined in some way through numbers. Math already exists in all creation; we merely discover it.
Math is also True – consistently. It is not situational. 2 + 2 always equals 4. While there is incredible variety and complexity in how we discover mathematical truth, there is also an essential simplicity in its certainty.
As a Christian, I find so much to wonder and marvel at as I consider how math reflects the character of God! It is language, beauty, creativity, complexity and simplicity, infinite yet knowable in part.
Does this start to get you excited, or at least not quite so jaded as before? If math is so much more than the dreaded worksheets and tests from your childhood, don’t you think you could find some elements in which to delight and marvel?
For “one mad moment” set aside your prejudice and set your curiosity free to find the beauty and even the zany in the world of math!
A bit more math philosophy
If the philosophy of a subject gets your interest flowing, you may also be interested in these books for deepening your understanding of math. They will certainly be a challenge, but worth the mental effort!
Mathematics: Is God Silent, by James Nickel
Mathematics in a Postmodern Age, edited by Russell W. Howell and W. James Bradley
Don’t know much about math, but you’ll watch a video that might change your mind?
If philosophy leaves you cold, but you enjoy a creative youtube video, here are a few favorites that will help you see math in new ways:
Some of our favorites videos: Doodling in Math: Spirals, Fibonacci, and Being a Plant, Hexaflexagons, Peace for Triple Piano (and make sure to watch the “making of” video, too!)
(Ok, so this is a fictional tv show, and thus it’s not a source for you to learn actual math, but it is such a fun way to show how cool math can be! An FBI agent and his math genius younger brother team up to solve a variety of mysteries. If you’re a grownup who likes kooky characters and procedural dramas, and doesn’t mind some intensity, definitely check it out!)
Who knows…maybe you’ll even start to get insider math jokes like this one:
Don’t know much about math, but you want to deepen your understanding?
My top recommendation is a site you may already know about if you’re a parent: Khan Academy. It is completely free. You can skim and choose random topics that interest or confuse you, or you can systematically go through math topics from elementary levels all the way up through advanced calculus! There are video lessons as well as practice problems. I actually know some adults who have used it as a refresher course or to learn a topic they never learned in school! (And Khan Academy has way more than just math for your life-long learning adventures. You can also learn about science, humanities, computer programming, and more!)
If you’re a fan of classical education, be bold and try out the original Euclid’s Elements!
Don’t Know Much About Math, and want it to be different for your own children?
If you’re a parent, resist the temptation to label your kids as “not a math person.” Help them discover at least 1 element of math that they can relate to and find joy in. Several of the resources above, especially the Vi Hart youtube channel, would be great resources for finding connections between math and what they already love.
Don’t be afraid to do a little extra work and figure out the “why” behind math. You can learn about the “why” behind inverting and multiplying when dividing fractions here:
Need a bit more guidance in your math teaching? Kate Snow has a website full of teaching-math-tips, including a free email training course.
Continue to pursue Life-Long Learning in your adulthood!
Wonder. Explore. Discover. Challenge yourself. Whether math, literature, or something else…there is always so much more to learn!