Friday, October 10, 2014

the ultimate question of life the universe and everything

   Often it is the case that as an educator we are expected to have answers to all the questions.  Personally my favorites happened during a space unit where I was asked: "If all that stuff is up there, than where is heaven?"  Luckily I was born with the gift for gab and managed to talk quick enough to satisfy the student without having to commit to a world view that I'm not prepared to support.  Yes it was the public board, in this case it might have been nicer to be in the separate board because there would have been an acceptable definitive answer...or at least a campus minister to direct the student to.  
Still we are expected to have ready the answer to any and everything, and we do our best as often as possible to do just that... technology in the classroom has been a big boon on this front.  Still when you find yourself overwhelmed by questions that are outside the scope of your prepared lesson it might be nice to have a fall back answer, and ask the French teacher isn't the right answer.  
   As a preparatory exercise one may want to consider the following video: this link will send you to a video put on by Numberphile, a group of mathematics enthusiasts who tackle all sorts of questions from the technical to the mundane as they relate to math.  Sometimes they even take a look on the quirky side and in this video they consider the answer to the ultimate question of life the universe and everything...42.  
   Take a few moments to see how passionate people can be about numbers, and if nothing else you can begin to get the jokes about 42 that crop up every so often on T.V.  

Should you find yourself engaged the blokes at Numberphile have put out enough videos to keep you busy for quite some time and you may even be able to find a practical application for this in the classroom.  It is important to continue to inspire students not only along the path laid out in the curriculum but also towards a genuine affinity to the subject.  While having your grade ten applied class view this will not help them grasp quadratic equations it may inspire them to think about math and numbers in more positive way.  If students can think about math positively than learning is less adversarial and easier to do.  


  1. Thanks for posting this.

    I find too that kids will take to Math if you, as the teacher, is interested in their learning. I have found that if you take the time to explain the concepts and make sure each kids understands what you are teaching, you will be more successful.

    I have found that most of the resistance for kids and Math, is that they simply havent had anyone thoroughly explain it to them.

    I also think that using videos or like you said Ian, starting with open ended questions to get this attention also hooks them in. Even using a gizmo or bitstrip, like we discussed is another way to get them thinking about Math, especially those applied students.

    I found this website for PD in the ottawa area, it has some good links and ideas for teaching Math and getting kids hooked.

  2. Thanks for sharing Mr. Anderson. Learning would definitely be a lot less adversarial if students could think about math positively! The last statement you made really got me thinking. I started writing a comment to this blog post but realized it became very long and a bit off topic. Check it out!