Friday, December 2, 2011

What is an eskimo pi?

What is an eskimo pi? Mathematical Strategies Revealed is a book by Queena N. Lee-Chua. For the most part, it gathered inputs from students, teachers and others to talk about Math Anxiety and the ways a teacher can improve Math appreciation from students. The book also gave real world applications of Mathematics.

I bought the book because my dad currently teaches Math and because, well, I miss Math. The last time I had Math classes for my masters was in March 2010 and I'm still undecided on whether to continue with thesis. My adviser wanted me to study fractals, and behold I find this little book which discussed snippets of it. It's very intriguing, this fractal, and I envy miss Queena for being adept in this subject. FYI, I also found and bought a book by the man himself, Benoit Mandelbrot titled Gaussian Self-Affinity and Fractals, but I don't know if I could understand that.

Here are some quotes from the Eskimo Pi book:

  • People who fear math either disregard it from the three-dimensional world or refuse to see how it surrounds, permeates, and penetrates our world. What is factual, however, is that the application of math becomes a natural human process through both instinct and acquired knowledge.
  • Do you ever notice that there are fewer "great leaps" in science now than, let's say, 50 years ago?... Look at the population of scientists now, the few that there are. Even from this handful, the majority is focused on "commercial science" and not breakthrough science.
  • Suzanne Miller says that math anxiety often results when students try to randomly learn just the "math facts" as separate bits of information. When they have no landmarks, they must recall each math fact independently. If information is forgotten, a student has no strategy or structure to recover or reconstruct it... Without a solid foundation, math becomes painful and is avoided.
  • It is always a big discouragement to students when the teacher doesn't seem to have a grasp of what he/she is teaching.
  • If I were a Math teacher, I would not stop educating myself.
  • Teachers should be able to teach certain things not found in textbooks.
  • Math is truly humanizing if it helps people to recognize what their minds are capable of -- the ability to hold ideas firmly while still being open to all sorts of creative possibilities.

It also included the Math Teacher's Ten Commandments by Donald Edge & Ellen Freedman

  1. Thou shalt accept the challenge of teaching math and educate thyself in every way so that students will learn.
  2. Thou shalt recognize that some students fear or dislike math and be compassionate and understanding when teaching.
  3. Thou shalt convey to students that their self worth is unrelated to their math skills.
  4. Thou shalt adapt teaching strategies to meet the different learning styles of students.
  5. Thou shalt respect all student questions as you would have them respect yours.
  6. Thou shalt pursue the response of "I still don't understand" through different avenues until there is understanding.
  7. Thou shalt not ask a class "Do you understand?" Instead, thou shalt determine what each student knows and does not know, and address student problems individually.
  8. Thou shalt identify students in need of extra help and make certain they get it.
  9. Thou shalt actively involve students in class, assign daily homework and quiz frequently, knowing that student discipline comes from teacher discipline.
  10. Though they may at times seem few, thou shalt count thy blessings.

Other books on my shelf:

I've recently read The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle. It's my first Doyle book. And the verdict? I couldn't put it down.

Currently reading: The Stand by Stephen King.
I've seen the TV mini series back in high school, but I can't remember most of it. Unfortunately for me, the book I have is the extended version: more than a thousand pages. =(

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