A look into the name of this blog that I hope to develop in the coming years…
I didn’t attend this delivered message from Christopher Danielson (Find what you love. Do more of that.), but I had a related epiphany elsewhere in the state of Minnesota. It was a moment when I realized that I loved math beyond the confines of ”normality”; the beauty behind it’s possibilities, the creativity in its application, and the looming opportunities it holds in bringing value to the world. Interestingly, it was the NOVA documentary, Fractals: Hunting the Hidden Dimension, that released in me this previously dormant part of my identity. Here is a Twitter post from 2016 reminiscing the moment …(although I didn’t watch it in 2008, it was actually 2012)
Before that point in time, I had always been an explorer in other areas of my life, but not in my classroom. I was rigid. I was focused on efficacy as it pertains to test scores and used them almost exclusively to critique my teaching. There was something in this documentary’s message that opened my eyes to the notion that math is more than a set of sequenced skills, and that is was much bigger than I had ever realized from my previous experiences as a student or teacher.
It led me to spend relentless hours investigating more robust ways to discover and explore mathematics including Desmos, Geogebra, and my current passion of teaching kids how to partner computer science with mathematics (see #CSandMath ). It was a catalyst for me to begin looking for math in non-traditional school settings such as solving Rubik’s Cubes, coordinate geometry in The Math Behind the Movies (and other insightful connections from Pixar in a Box; See Environmental Modeling Here), and largely to the realization that math is a lot more than just calculation. It’s creative, artistic, social, etc. Mathematical makerspaces should be more prevalent in our schools don’t you think?
The slogan “Math out of Bounds” came to me in July of 2015 in a Fablab training program I underwent, where I began to see applications of “making” mathematics I had never considered before. I decided to flip that mantra to “Bounds of out Math” which was more symbolic of it’s meaning to me and also created the acronym BOOM. So behind the title of my blog and Twitter handle is a belief that most math classrooms in this moment are too bounded; Too focused on the accumulation of skills, while leaving inventive thinking as a trait of unequal importance.
Lastly, when I look at my beliefs and my own classroom practices I too often feel convicted. I preach about this different kind of math, yet constantly revert back to old practices of direct instruction. So I’m going to commit more deeply in 2018. I’m going to fight the social pressure to capitulate to traditional methods because I believe it’s what’s best for kids. Hopefully, I can influence some others to jump with me…