Curriculum Corner: Math is Beautiful

Curriculum Corner

By Mr. Schultz, Upper School Math Teacher

 

Mrs. Habrecht emailed me some time back with a link to: Beautiful Math Equations, an online article about the eleven “most beautiful” equations.

From Einstein’s theory on special relativity, to the Pythagorean theorem, the article's main point is: math is beautiful. The question is how does a teacher help a student to see math as beautiful? How do we encourage students beyond the uneasiness that can come with math, to see its true, God-intended beauty?

For many if not most people, math can be an intimidating topic. In Philippians 2:12, we are instructed to work out our own salvation with “fear and trembling” – two words that describe the sentiments of many a student when a teacher tells them to pull out their books for math class.

Johannes Kepler, the 17th century German physicist best known for his work on planetary motion, stated: “The chief aim of all investigations of the external world should be to discover the rational order and harmony which has been imposed on it by God and which He revealed to us in the language of mathematics.” So, then, how does one move past the fear and intimidation of math to really see math as God’s harmonic language?

My answer: simplify. “Let’s simplify the problem,” I often say to my students. Math has two forms: simplified and complicated. When an 8th grade student encounters trinomials for the first time, panic will often set in. But after clear explanation, solid examples, and several practice problems, understanding instead of panic begins to appear, and the student will see trinomials in a more simple and understandable form.

In 5th grade, solving equations for the first time can be a daunting task. Take the following equation for example: N - 7

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