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Topic: "Magic, Puzzles Delight Math Fans at G4G"
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GS Chandy

Posts: 8,307
From: Hyderabad, Mumbai/Bangalore, India
Registered: 9/29/05
"Magic, Puzzles Delight Math Fans at G4G"
Posted: Apr 2, 2014 12:50 AM
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Scientific American carries a delightful piece, "Magic, Puzzles Delight Math Fans at G4G", reporting on the'Eleventh Gathering for Gardner (G4G)' an annual conference honouring Martin Gardner's "contributions to mathematics and its relation to art, music, architecture, puzzles and? fun" -

The blog states: "(Gardner) had the ability to tie a single mathematical concept to literature, art, magic and paradox. And his readers would take his observations and run with them, improving and generalizing to Gardner's delight".

I'd suggest that Martin Gardner's column carried in the Scientific American over umpteen years (a quarter century or so, as reported in the article) must have had a great deal to do with turning innumerable people ONTO math and the joys of its applications. And further that Garnder's 'work' (or 'play') could do a great deal to help overcome the 'fear and loathing' that most students have for math when they graduate from school. (By no means am I suggesting that 'play-school' is the way to go!- though I do claim that Maria Montessori did have some very profound ideas to enable children learn how to learn math).

How can math teachers today learn to take the path that Martin Gardner marked out for us so brilliantly? It's a question to which we've not yet succeeded in framing an andequate response, alas!

'Simple' answer: The educational system needs to learn to 'take delight in math' (as Martin Gardner clearly did) - and then realise how to transmit some of that delight to students. Not such an easy thing to do, as we should realise by now.

Another question (actually part of the earlier one): Is it possible to develop a 'system' through which math learners can find 'delight in math'?

Well, Martin Gardner clearly did just that - but can we learn how to *integrate* that 'delight' into the formal educational system (or at least large part of it)? As an 'outsider' to the formal math educational system, I would suggest that the system has not yet learned how to accomplish much of that.


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