Gregory Alan Jamison
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Mathematical Association of America
My Philosophy of Teaching
I do not teach math because it is useful; I teach it because it is beautiful. Arithmetic can help people spend wisely at the grocery store, but that is not math. Real math is something one can close one's eyes and play with on a rainy day, just for fun and relaxation. When math starts being "useful", it has often evolved so far past the pleasant game it started out as, that it may no longer be real math. In this sense, what is taught in schools is not math. I believe that it is possible to change the way math is taught in schools to not only make it possible for students to learn the useful aspects of it, but also the fun ones! I try in my classes to spend at least some class time talking about mathematics, not just how to do the homework. Remember, math is all about asking questions, not answering them!
Also, math may be fun, but the fun is in the challenge... math is not easy. Math is not fun unless you understand it! Either ask questions in class or come to my office hour. It helps everyone else when one person asks a question, and I appreciate knowing when I'm going too fast. If you have no clue what I'm talking about, tell me!
Do homework until you understand it, not just until you can do the problems. My tests often require a deeper understanding of the material.
I will not drill you repetitively. While memorizing is a useful technique, it will be difficult to memorize all that you need to know for my classes. I will show you how to derive necessary formulas so memorization is not necessary.
Calculators are useful tools, but they can not and will not do your problems for you. I often design my test problems so that calculators will not be useful in solving them, instead of prohibiting the use of calculators.
I do not grade on attendance; you are old enough to decide whether to come to class. (although I am required by the school to have an attendance sheet.)
Remember, real math is fun! If you're interested, I have fun math books, puzzles, and activities in my office you can come try.