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Discussion: Traffic Jam Applet tool
Topic: Another opinion
Related Item: http://mathforum.org/mathtools/tool/10/


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Subject:   another issue
Author: Gayla
Date: Sep 18 2003
Math is a difficult case because everybody has to have it, or learn it to some
extent, but, and please correct me if I am wrong, it is almost exclusively
encountered in "lessons."  A lot of the things we learn about are also things we
enjoy.  Plants and flowers are classroom topics, but they are aesthetically
enjoyed as well.  We have real life sensory experiences with many of the things
we learn about in classrooms.  Even engineering, bridges are visually
appreciated for the engineering that went into them.  Learn about chemistry and
see a star in the sky.  There are typically real-world associations with most
things that are studied in classroom settings.  Social studies is generally
perceived as lessons-only as well.  So maybe it's not "just" math, but this is
a problem for math, and everybody doesn't HAVE to have social studies, meaning
that if you don't have social studies, you're not professionally amputated from
that many fields of study.  Art is enjoyed for its own sake, and their challenge
is keep making the case that it is also necessary.  

I try to put math structures in aesthetic settings, with things that we have
aesthetic, real-world associations with, and to show that math (structures)
can stand up in the most beautiful settings imaginable, and to ...highlight...
the math in the settings.  But people go to the site and think it is bizarre.
:-)  I've read descriptions, and the word curious is usually there somewhere.


So in addition to the point you have brought up, I think that math desperately
needs to somehow be enjoyed for its own sake, and connections between math and
things we do appreciate aesthetically need to be conveyed whenever possible, BUT
NOT IN A LESSON!, rather in ways that can be ...realized.  If this could somehow
be accomplished, it could be like a mental Dawn with regard to math in the minds
of individuals.  I think we have the opportunity to at least add such an
approach with fractal geometry, because it describes many of the most beautiful
things that impress us as children.  I'm not suggesting that anyone should get
rid of what is out there, that we should get rid of math lessons, rather that
connections should added that are age-independent, that three year olds and
eighty year olds and everyone in-between can see, realize, and perceive.

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