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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

'Tipping' Mathematics

I'm not a huge Malcolm Gladwell fan myself, but if you are, you may enjoy this "Math4Love" post asking if we can make mathematics "tip"? i.e. make it more widely popular to a majority of Americans:

http://mathforlove.com/2012/08/how-to-make-math-tip/

From the posting:
"The real goal is to change the culture around mathematics. Here’s the good news: I think it’s been happening for while anyway. The first mainstream breakthrough I remember was Good Will Hunting, and since then we’ve had A Beautiful Mind, Proof, Numbers, The Big Bang Theory, and more. When Steve Strogatz wrote pieces for the New York Times, they received hundreds of comments. Scientists are cooler than they’ve been in my lifetime. Is it happening? Is math tipping?"
and ending thusly:
"What needs to happen? Do the cool kids need to start trying to find a simple proof of the 4 color theorem? Do we need a bad boy/girl mathematician (or scientist… a rising tide raises all ships) to cool it up in the media like Feynmann did for a while?...
"I’d love to end with a solution to this problem, but all I’ve got for a moment in the question: what needs to happen for people in our culture to think that knowing math is standard and being good at it is cool?"
I'm doubtful math can "tip" in this sense anytime in the near future, but it is interesting and encouraging how widely programming/coding and computer science more generally, are taking hold for young people (not exactly math, but math-related). Stephen Wolfram, and many others, have urged the centrality that such areas should (and almost certainly will) play in future education. It would be interesting as well to know how successfully the current ongoing "Code For America" and "CodeAcademy" projects are going???

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I suspect the idea that math is becoming more hip is mainly an illusion created by our own aging. Math has always been a bit more suave to people in higher age brackets, and as we move into those age brackets ourselves, we lose sight of the lower age brackets where math and science will probably never be "tip".

Movies and TV shows don't mean a thing. Any director can make anything seem either cool or uncool, at his pleasure.