Thursday, August 12, 2004


I just realized that today is the beginning of Mathfest (obviously I’m not going). This year it’s in Providence, RI, where my brother used to live.

Last year it was in Boulder, CO. I went early for a workshop. It was pretty cool and very useful for one of the classes that I teach on a regular basis. It was good to talk to like-minded people. I’ve come to the conclusion that if students graduate from high school unable to do arithmetic and basic algebra, then they have had their chance and we will move on and teach them something different instead of torturing them with the same stuff they’d failed before. It’s refreshing to meet other mathematicians who hold this view. The more common take is to complain about how the students didn’t learn this stuff after 13 years of public school and then insist that they take a 14 week course (often taught by an adjunct) to bring them up to speed and then to bitch about how that course shouldn’t count for college credit because it’s high school material and to blame someone (take your pick) for the students’ poor performance in the subsequent course. It gets old.

There was a lot of neat stuff but after a few days of math all day, I was sort of mathed out. So I walked to Shuttles, Spindles, and Skeins and bought a lot of bulk fingerling yarn that I haven’t made anything out of yet and some of that cool color-changing sock yarn. I was able to knit a pair of socks while proctoring my finals in Fall 2003.