Part of the reason I was never a brilliant math student had to do with the chasm of difference between how I was taught math and how I understood it. Art has always been ‘my thing’ so in spite of all my math teachers’ best efforts to learn by the book, I inevitably accessed the subject artistically. Specifically, through patterns.
In school, I was an incorrigible margin-doodler and I would always get mad whenever a teacher scolded me for not showing my work. The crazy cartoon geometry framing my homework showed how I worked the math problems! I never understood why my teachers got so annoyed with me for finding answers in my own way. It was an early and often-repeated lesson in how seeing the world differently is widely equated with cheating.
Now look at me. Parent of a school-aged child and worried sick about the cookie-cutter curriculum he’s up against… Sometimes it still seems that way, doesn’t it? Like it’s us versus classrooms? But kids and parents are better armed these days; we have the internet, and it is full of useful alternatives for students who need them. I even found an example of someone demonstrating multiplication the way I taught myself to understand it. Specifically, through patterns.
Vi Hart is my favorite mathematician and among my top five favorite YouTubers. Her videos are an effective combination of straightforward, smart and charming, and I recommend them highly to geeks of all kinds.