The Mathematics of Gratitude

I’m fortunate to work closely with two math teachers smart enough to realize that math is

  1. Beautiful,
  2. Everywhere, and
  3. Typically taught in a way that hides its beauty and its universal value.

The three of us work with several other teachers in an interdisciplinary learning environment that, by design, forces teachers and students to often seek the natural symmetry between subjects – subjects that are traditionally taught separate from one another.

These two are brave. They are brave enough to pause and reflect on the foundational reasoning of mathematical thinking and on the nature of numbers and their manipulation. They both seem to appreciate the history of mathematics and its applications…

They solve puzzles and study cryptography with students, they eavesdrop on any and all conversations looking for learning opportunities and mathematical “launching points,” they design projects that – at first glance – seem to do nothing with mathematics, and above all, they are honest with their students, their students’ parents, and their colleagues. They never hide behind bloated mathematical curricula and textbooks.

They are honest about the state of math education (much of which also applies to the education world in general).

So, to Joel and John, I say thank you. Thank you for your courage. Thank you for inspiring those around you to humble themselves and thus investigate their enduring impact, or lack thereof, on our beloved field of education. I am grateful to work with you both.


Here are some resources to consider if you also wonder about the why behind education – especially behind math education:

“It became clear to me that there is no discipline where there exists a wider gap than the crevasse between the subject and the teaching of that subject than between the beauty, power, wonder, and utility of mathematics and what kids get in school – math.”  – Gary Stager (click here to read the entire article)

Why math instruction is unnecessary – John Bennett:

A new type of mathematics: David Dalrymple: