Making math magic: Vi Hart doodles her lessons
A friend sent this to me:
My office randomly started talking about Montessori schools yesterday, and today there have been a lot of cool alternative-math-teaching e-mails flying around (for example, did you know the Egyptians did math in exactly the same way as computers do it today?).
Anyway, someone sent a link to a super nerdy math-doodler that makes crazy awesome and inspirational videos. Seeing as you are also nerdy, I thought you would get a kick out of it.
He's right. I do. And I think you will, too. The math doodler is Vi Hart from Long Island, N.Y. She hates math class. She loves math. She spent a lot of time doodling in class because "it's too heartbreaking to watch [the teacher] butcher what could have been such a fun subject full of snakes and balloons," she says in one of her YouTube tutorials.
She's full of ire at the sorry state of schooling -- and she has reason to be. A report released by the U.S. Education Department last week shows that 15-year-old students in the United States performed below average in mathematics compared with those in other industrialized nations. Out of 34 countries, we rank 25th in math knowledge. That's not pretty.
Her videos could help in correcting this trend because she makes mathematics look so enticing. She carves dodecahedral shapes out of a pumpkin. She makes eating candy buttons into a lesson on Mobius strips. Her fast-talking enthusiasm is utterly winning. When she triumphantly says, "This is why I love mathmateics: the moment when you realize that something seemingly arbitrary and confusing is actually part of something," I wanted to cheer.
For a less playful, and more of a passionate call to arms, read Paul Lockhart's "A Mathematician's Lament."
(Via NPR. And thank you, Dan!)
| December 17, 2010; 11:01 AM ET
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