Bon Crowder, Math Mom and Education Advocate, publishes MathFour and That’s Math to support teachers and parents in their quest to build better math learners. Our most enthusiastic interviewee to date, Bon shared six thoughts about math, suggesting that perhaps the 5 Thoughts about Math could be +/- 1 due to rounding.
1. How did you feel about math as a child and what shaped that opinion?
I thought it was pretty dumb. It wasn’t hard – not much of a challenge. I much preferred doing puzzles and games. I certainly didn’t want to go into any field with math in it.
But it turned out that the gaming was really math. And that the skills I learned to be a mathematician weren’t learned in school – they were learned in gaming with my dad. Once I realized that math was more than just that boring stuff in the textbook (as an adult), I was all in!
2. What advice do you have for parents who want to create a math-friendly environment?
1. Eliminate all anti-math phrases from your vocabulary. Like “I was never good at math” or “Math is hard.”
2. Discourage other grownups from negative math talk, too. When they say they aren’t good at math, say, “I’m sure you are – you got up on time this morning, right?”
3. Integrate some pro-math phrases into your vocab. Say, “I’d love to help with your homework – it’s been a while so it’ll be like learning together. How fun!”
4. Point out some math words you can use in everyday language. Like “I just cut up an apple – do you want to share it? I’ll give you a fraction of it!”
3. Girls often like and excel in math in the early grades, but do not pursue degrees or careers in math later on. How can we involve and retain more girls in math?
We fail to recognize that we’re all highly involved in math everyday. Even if someone (girl or boy) chooses a career in fashion, there’s a ton of math, logical reasoning and decision-making. Just because it has glitter or high heels, doesn’t mean it’s not a “math” career.
So instead of asking, “How can we get girls into math fields?” we should ask, “How can we get everyone to see that every field involves tons of math?”
4. How do we inspire kids of all cultures and backgrounds to embrace math?
And don’t let them think that math is something out of a textbook. Throw the books away if necessary.Show them where they already do math. Show them that if they aren’t doing math, then they’re dead.
Oh – and tell them that all gaming is math. Yup – even things like Angry Birds and Plants vs. Zombies. Tons of math!
5. Tell us about the last time math got you out of a tricky situation?
I’d rather talk about my favorite time math got me INTO tricky situation… 😀
My husband wanted to buy a BMW motorcycle. Those aren’t cheap so I told him I’d work the numbers to help him make a decision.
Then I asked him, “Do you really want to buy it? Or do you want me to talk you out of it? I can give you the math argument for either.”
I showed him, with math, how he could save lots of money in gas and wear & tear on his truck by using the motorcycle. He bought it, rode it from Houston, Texas to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska – and back. Oh – and loved having it to ride to work as well!
6. Thanks to math we can…exist. Just try it. Give it a day and see if you don’t use math.
And if you think you didn’t, ask yourself these questions:
Did I look at the clock even once? (numerals)
Did I feel bummed that there was no more coffee? (comparing volumes)
Did I figure out what time I needed to get up in time to get to work? (subtraction)