Spreading the Word

I am talking maths to two people outside of my school life.

Firstly, to J, currently studying Maths while in prison. We communicate via letters – the thrill of receiving an actual physical piece of paper is rare and powerful. Early days at the moment. The current system is that I tell him of rich problems I have found while planning lessons (the advantage of a properly rich problem is that it challenges anyone, from 5 yr old to professor), and he writes about how the men in the education block get excited solving them – “I’ve got to say, that’s really given me a bit of an adrenaline rush” he writes after finding a pattern in the Graceful Tree Conjecture.

Secondly, to D, currently in a gap year and applying to Oxford to read Maths. His school in Hackney does not have any maths teachers that are comfortable enough with their content knowledge to stretch him enough ready for University. We spent a focussed and happy afternoon in a local cafe drawing fractals and sin(1/x) graphs. He muttered under his breath as he worked, rapidly making connections, scribbling down tiny notes as he went. A joyful reminder of calculus and difficult curve-sketching beyond y = mx + c.

Red curve approximates parabola close to origin, but approximates straight line far away

 

It is an honour to be asked to talk about my subject in a variety of contexts – I want to do more of it!

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