In a recent Seth Godin Podcast he argues that basically everything is math. This is something I have thought about for years. One result of learning how to write computer code is that you start to see the calculations and logical structure behind everything in life outside of your coding editor.
Seth’s podcast is somewhat a critic of the “rote formula memorization” method of traditional math schooling in the United States. This scares people away from math.
Meanwhile, math is everywhere even if we’re not aware. He talks about how basketball players have to use complicated internal calculation (math) to properly make a basket. We’ve developed a huge cache of internal formulas that we’ve figured out over time because we needed to achieve some end, not because an instructor showed us some variables on a chalk board and told us to memorize them.
From this I thought: The real way to teach someone math is to encourage them to build something; to create. Especially if one is to build something novel or complicated, she’ll realize during the process that she needs to do some calculations to get it right; she’ll need to do some math.
This makes me feel like our deep desire to create, as humans, is what drives our desire to acquire knowledge. I think our urge to create is a more powerful and important force than our urge to acquire knowledge. Knowledge without action is useless. Your life isn’t worth much if you just sit in a library for the duration hoarding away formulas in your brain and never get out in the light to deploy the creativity that unfolds from this knowledge.
This realization at the very least gives me more insight into why I am likely drawn to certain books. I realize, especially at this point in my life, I read almost exclusively to ingest fuel for my creativity.
Teaching young kids to long for knowledge by leading with inspiring creativity is the key. Inspire lifelong creativity and you’ve created a life long learner and knowledge / truth seeker.
Here is Seth’s podcast episode: