nancylebov (nancylebov) wrote,

How two unrelated things work: math teaching, bookstores

In re Jo Boaler's What's Math Got to Do with It?:

In the next chapter, Boaler talks about what math is. (And delights me by mentioning Reuben Hersh's What Is Mathematics, Really?, a book I read in college.) She describes math as the study of patterns. Apparently most American students would call it "a list of rules and procedures that need to be remembered." I don't know why I find this so shocking; it's pretty close to what I thought of math when I was younger, before I hit Geometry. But since then I've thought of math as kind of an edifice of thought and a way of thinking and problem-solving. And it is so neat when you get that eureka moment in solving a problem or doing a proof. If students associated that feeling with math I suspect more of them would like it. But of course classes have to be structured so that they get to experience that feeling of discovery and insight.

And I think another thing that Boaler is dead-on about is that students are under the impression that math is a "dead" subject: there is a fixed list of math facts and procedures that the teacher has to transmit to them, and that they have to memorize, and that's it. Rather than realizing that math is a living thing, that it's still going on and discoveries are being made and even that mathematicians work together! And also the fact that math is a creative endeavor--I mean, when you think about it, mathematical theorems are creations of pure thought. I don't know how you get any more creative than that.

Bookstores large and small, chain and independent, good and bad, and why these factors aren't as simply correlated as some people think.

I don't have anything to add to the discussion except that Between Books, a little north of Wilmington, DE on I-95 is afaik the only specialty sf store in the region and is pretty good.

"Those musty antiquated bookstores out of Henry James and Ray Bradbury stories would offer you the widest choice of titles they could fit into their shop, even if they only carried a single copy of each." --Greg Frost

Actually, no, they tended to carry whatever the owner felt like carrying, whether or not anyone was interested in reading it. The ones that still exist, still do. Most of these are hobbies, run as hobbies, not as serious concerns. This is why the ones that exist are mostly used bookstores, too, where they can pay almost nothing for the stock and, indeed, don't have to go out shopping for it if they don't want, but can wait for customers to bring it in boxes for their perusal. They can be treasure troves; but counting on them to find any given title at any given time, or being able to get it, is like wandering around a field of haystacks expecting to find needles. I have spent a fair amount of my meager paychecks at Lee's Books, but that's because I go in without any specific target in mind, since if I do want a particular book or author I am bound to be disappointed.

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