# Jessica Lahey: Teaching Math to People Who Think They Hate It →

Ever since writing “There’s One Key Difference Between Kids Who Excel at Math and Those Who Don’t” with Noah Smith and “How to Turn Every Child into a ‘Math Person’ as a follow-up, I am on the lookout for ideas helpful for math education. Jessica Lahey’s article linked at the top gives a nice description of the Discovering the Art of Mathematics: Mathematical Inquiry in the Liberal Arts (DAoM) curriculum.

Among math professors, Stephen Strogatz has one of the strongest presences on Twitter. In the classroom, he uses the Discovering the Art of Mathematics curriculum. Jessica’s article describes an exercise about folding paper so that a scalene (irregular) triangle can be cut out with one cut that is well worth reading about. Here are some other excerpts:

Strogatz has discovered a certain thrill in rectifying the crimes and misdemeanors of math education. Strogatz asks his students, more than half of them seniors, to provide a “mathematical biography.” Their stories reveal unpleasant experiences with math along the way. Rather than question the quality of the teaching they received, they blamed math itself—or worse, their own intelligence or lack of innate talent. Strogatz loves the challenge, “There’s something remarkable about working with a group of students who think they hate math or find it boring, and then turning them around, even just a little bit.” …

Twelve years of compulsory education in mathematics leaves us with a populace that is proud to announce they cannot balance their checkbook, when they would never share that they were illiterate. What we are doing—and the

waywe are doing it—results in an enormous sector of the population that hates mathematics. …If we only teach conceptual approaches to math without developing skill at actually solving math problems, students will feel weak. … You need to have technique before you can create a composition of your own. But if all we do is teach technique, no one will want to play music at all.