starting with the mystery.

"Teaching is not about information.
It's about having an honest intellectual relationship with your students.
It requires no method, no tools and no training.
Just the ability to be real."
-Lockhart's Lament

The girls and I talk a lot.
We talk every day about a lot of things that we notice in the world. Conversation is the one of the cornerstones of our learning.
But what I have noticed is that we don't talk much about patterns and sequences and shapes and lines and all that sort of thing.
I just don't notice it that much.
This in itself isn't a problem. We work with these things daily, it's just that I have been wanting to find a way for these things to sing to me more.

You see I learnt Maths the way that most children learn Maths. I learnt formula, I memorised rules, I rote learnt my timestables. I liked getting problems right and because of this I did pretty well at school Maths.
As an adult I am left with confidence in basic arithmetic and very basic geometry and an ability to think sequentially.
During the 13 years of my life that I studied Maths at school, I never gained an appreciation or even glimpsed an understanding of the mystery of Mathematics:the mystery of patterns and shapes and sequences and numbers.
Instead it gave me ticks on my paper.

But I like mystery and so I have searching for inspiration.
And I found this and from there I found this.
"Lockhart's Lament," the 25 page essay referred to in the second link has been inspiring me over the last few days.
The essay is easily understandable, embraces Mathematics as an art form and it is simply a joy to read such an impassioned writer.
Try it and let me know what you think.

"To do mathematics is to engage in the act of discovery and conjecture, intuition and inspiration; to be in the state of confusion - not because it makes no sense to you, but because you gave it sense and you still don't know what your creation is up to; to have a breakthrough idea; to be frustrated as an artist; to be awed and overwhelmed by an almost painful beauty.." - Lockhart's Lament


  1. A timely post! I've been feeling a bit wobbly on Maths lately. I have that Family Math book and we've picked it up a few times to play or make games. The kids seem to enjoy it - I just don't do it often enough. I have read that article before, and will remember to go back there for inspiration next time I get a bit jittery. Will come back and read your 2nd link too, looks interesting.

  2. Yay for Lockhart! Just read the first half and skimmed the second. The nightmare he describes is often here in music, and probably in art too. I have had music teachers tell me it is terrible that children are using ukuleles rather than recorders in school because it doesn't teach them to read music. It appears unimportant that it helps them make music! With a small retuning anyone can make music on a uke with one finger of the left hand, and a strum with the right.

  3. I was so surprised at university learning to teach math, how few future teachers understood math. I was also surprised at the lack of life and creativity in the proposed curriculum. That's why i wrote the Arithmetic Village series with lesson plans and activities at :)

  4. I love the first quote! It is so true. As for math, it comes up in every day life and we learn patterns through our handcrafting. I know we will need to practice written math and for that we use the dry erase board ideas from artithmetic village. For now with my 7 yo and 4 yo we do mostly verbal/mental math.

    Thank you for visiting my blog, I'm glad to have found your blog!