Meanwhile, anyone who learns how to think mathematically can then learn how to graph a parabola or anything else they need in like five minutes.
But teaching how to think is an individualized process that gives power and responsibility to individuals while teaching what to think can be done with one-size-fits-all bullet points and checkboxes.
And our culture of excuses demands that we do the latter, keeping ourselves placated in the comforting structure of tautology and clear expectations; Algebra has become a checkbox subject and Mathematics weeps alone in the top of the ivory tower prison to which he has been condemned.
But you’re not interested in checkboxes, you’re interested in dots! And lines to connect them!
How in the name of Zeus’s butthole did I not learn about VIHart until very recently?
As somebody who considers themselves a victim of the checkbox approach to math, and didn’t realize it until he was in his second semester of calculus in his 3rd year of college, I will be watching the rest of her catalog and following her videos from now on.
To elaborate, I always got better-than-decent marks in math throughout my primary education, and thought I I had a good handle on it, but it was only after sitting in Purdue’s Math Help Room for 3-4 hours a day, 5 days a week did anything beyond basic ASMD really start clicking; but once it did, everything fell like dominos. Why such a time sink? I was determined not to get a C in Calculus II like I did in Calculus I.
Vi mentions this in her video and I thought it important enough to quote above: the concept of being taught how to think vs the concept of being taught what to think. It wasn’t just solving for X or apply a formula, it was understanding the formula, and seeing and working through enough examples that my own understanding was earned, it wasn’t the attempted impartation of someone else’s understanding.
The extent to which that affected my academic career from that point on was pretty profound. I was a better student, or at least I felt like I was a better student. In that particular Calculus class, I earned a 97% on the final exam, and something in the neighborhood of a 95% in the class.
Teaching the how is much more difficult, and requires not just more time from the teacher, but tireless work on the part of the student (did I mention I was spending more time in the math help room than I was in all of my actual classes combined that semester?) There are comments to be made here about the path to better education starting at home, the obsession with sports in primary schools, and/or the benefits of adding more money to the education system, but I’ll refrain from elaborating on those for now.
But back to the topic at hand, give Vi’s video a watch, and if she talks too fast for you, watch it a couple of times. Or more. You’ll probably see her videos show up again on this blog at some point, but don’t let that stop you from subscribing, if you are like me and find the Vihart/minutephysics approach to conveying knowledge and cool facts worth watching.