Acquiring Mathematical Literacy and Cyanotype 9.30.19

Dear Henry, 

The Washington Post ran an article regarding the correlation between mathematical proficiency and financial success.  They even offered a math problem as a test.  I tried to solve this math problem and got the answer wrong, and I had thought, until today, I was fairly good at math.

It turns out, most people got the answer wrong and general lack of mathematical knowledge is affecting all sorts of our financial decisions.  The lack of mathematical ability, and its repercussions on the finances of the country, reminds me of a quote from Joan Didion's book Slouching Toward Bethlehem where she wrote "The ability to think for one's self depends upon one's mastery of the language", I am afraid that we (as a people) don't have a good understanding the language of math and it is causing us financial woe.

I think the problem with math is a problem in education.  Recently, while at a writing seminar, I spoke to a math teacher about this,  she is currently writing a book about a new method of teaching, one that places math in the context of real-life problems, and includes other disciplines (like science, history, and logical reasoning), rather than by teaching math by solving an esoteric formulas that looks for Y.  I am interested in reading about her successes with this teaching model.

I do wish there were more relatable math books, written in regular English and approachable, written like the Physicist Andrew Thomas managed to do in his book series Hidden in Plain Sight. I even thought Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time was relatively readable, although I don't know if I would have thought so, had I not read a couple of the Hidden in Plain Sight books first. So, I challenge a mathematician to write a readable math book - or at least direct me to one that already exists.  Because I, especially after today's math mishap would really like to study.

xoxo a.d.


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