“Math is the beautiful, rich, joyful, playful, surprising, frustrating, humbling and creative art that speaks to something transcendental,” says mathematician and teacher trainer James Tanton of the Mathematical Association of America. That’s quite a list of adjectives—and not the usual suspects to describe math for many.
We featured Dr. Tanton in the most recent issue of VIRTUE, which was focused on the delights and drama (dare I say it) of mathematics, and he did a marvelous job expressing the ways in which math—if I may use the short form—enlivens and liberates the mind.
But, Dr. Tanton is not naïve. He knows well, even first-hand, that many or most of us shy away from the numbers game that we have witnessed in the classrooms of our youth. (Or, perhaps the classrooms were currently attending!) Nevertheless, Dr. Tanton remains enthusiastic for what is possible, for the ways in which “thinking like a mathematician” truly astounds the mind. Here is a video exemplifying the method of his teaching and the skillful demeanor he has.