Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What is The Math Switch?

I've named this blog The Math Switch for three main reasons. First, the book Switch, by Chip and Dan Heath, is one of my all-time favorite reads. It highlights a lot of important features that are involved whenever one is trying to effect change. Perhaps most important among these is that appeals to reason are often ineffective by themselves; more often, an emotional appeal is what matters most. As a professor of mathematics, one of the things that I face is that, at least in the US, there is widespread aversion to mathematics; thus, I expend a lot of effort trying to help people switch perspectives, from one that sees mathematics as abstruse, irrelevant, and something only geniuses can do, to a subject about important ideas, relevant (yet also an art form), and something that ordinary people can do if given time, and given the chance to see that mathematics is NOT particularly about computing things with formulas, but about a particular kind of reasoning and a way of working with ideas using precise definitions and logic. I love to turn on the mathematical switch in people, and I love to help other teachers and professors learn how to switch people on to mathematics.

A second reason for The Math Switch is that a switch suggests turning on an electronic gadget. A few years ago, I was highly skeptical of technology as a classroom tool. My previous experience in teaching the basics of some software tools useful in mathematics (Excel, Geometer's SketchPad) led to a lot of frustration and was as much a distraction from the mathematics as it was an aid to learning. However, in 2012 I became a part of a project that set out to give iPads to math teachers, and to help them learn mathematics and learn to teach mathematics using the iPad as a tool. In spite of my doubts, I was determined to find ways to make the iPad a tool for teaching and learning. I've learned a lot since then, and I look forward to learning a lot more. As I learn, I hope to share ideas and to gain from the wisdom of others out there.

The third major reason for the name The Math Switch is that a switch suggests turning on a light. In this case, I want to shine the light on people, as well as tools, both pedagogical and technological, that are making good things happen when it comes to teaching and learning.

Welcome to The Math Switch. Bring your bright ideas.


  1. Excellent! I'm looking forward to following along.

  2. I'd like to second Dana's remark. This is going to be a great for me, especially as I switch to IBL in the fall. Thanks for sharing!!