"Bridging the Gap Between Math and Art" Scientific American

We need to stop boring our students and work to instill a love of learning and an excitement to be in school. I become more and more convinced all the time that this is the foundation of a great learning environment-fostering a place where kids want to be. A place where they really want to come everyday. Is this a bit pie-in-the-sky? Maybe, but I choose to believe that we can make schools places that crackle with excitement instead of snooze in boredom.

I remember taking math in high school; I got good grades, but I was bored stiff! In fact I hated it and learned very little. It's not that I hated the subject; I hated the unimaginative methods used to teach it--ones that were mired in the outdated paradigm that we still throw at our kids today: drill and kill and make no relevant connections to why we were studying this stuff. Why do we do this to our students? Why can't we find the joy in learning? Why can't we put the reasons why we need to learn this stuff out on the table and make it relevant to their lives? And if we can't do that, then why are we teaching it to them? Is it because it's always been taught that way? Maybe the worst reason of all!

Okay, so what sent me off on this rant? A wonderful slide show called "Bridging the Gap Between Math and Art" in Scientific American, a magazine I'm liking more and more all the time (and science was another subject I hated in high school, so I'm feeling another blog post coming on with that one). These artistic renderings of mathematical principles and concepts are astounding and something that I would love to have done in my study of math, and something that I would guess most students would like to do rather than sit at their desks and solve problem after problem.

The caption to the project pictured reads:

"Mitered Fractal Tree I," by Koos Verhoeff and Anton Bakker

(This sculpture was awarded Best of Show at the Bridges conference.) "Mitered Fractal Tree (designed late 1980s, first executed in wood), constructed from a beam with a rectangular cross section in the ratio 1:√2. When this beam is cut at 45 degrees, the result is a square cut face. When this beam is cut twice at 45 degrees, where the cuts are perpendicular, the result is a "roof" consisting of two smaller square panels. On this roof, two smaller copies of the entire tree are grown. No two branches point in the same direction. The result is an awe inspiring organic structure that is both highly structured and chaotic."—Koos Verhoeff  [Less] [Link to this slide]

Koos Verhoeff (design) and Anton Bakker (construction). Copyright Stichting Wiskunst Koos Verhoeff. Used with permission.
All I can say, as I wrap this up, is I wish that someone had given me the opportunity to work on a project like this when I was studying math. But that's in the past, and I like to live in the present moment, so the positive takeaway from this is that we can do this now with the kids who are coming into our classes this September. Let's work on changing the paradigm!


indiaartfair said…
The art they provide opportunities for self-expression, bringing the inner world into the outer world of concrete reality.

Essentially art is about creativity, it is intricately bound with the senses in a process of perception, interpretation and communication of ideas, thoughts and emotions.

albina N muro said…
I remember taking math in high school; I got good grades, but I was bored stiff! In fact I hated it and learned very little. It's not that I hated the subject; www.getsomedosh.com
Good podcast. My attorney-step-dad is constantly telling ppl not to go to law school. He's jaded, works shitty hours, hates his job, and has tons of student loan debt. personality development

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