Thursday, October 8, 2015

Every Problem Has a Solution

I have referred many times over the years to my Math professor, Dr. Goldberg. I tell my class about him because it was in his class at Purdue, when I was at the ripe age of 24, that I first understood math.


For the longest time, I tried to memorize the rules, which worked out as long as I got every single step right. The problem was, I didn't understand Math on the conceptual level, and therefore if I made a tiny mistake in there somewhere, I didn't realize it because I had no idea of what sounded reasonable. But something about the way Dr. Goldberg taught, how he explained it, and how he would question us instead of just talking to us, made me get things on a level that they never had before.

So when my students in math class began questioning me on why any number to the zero power is always one (and other things I just don't really quite understand myself...), I told them it was time to get hold of Dr. Goldberg. I googled him and emailed him our class's questions and we received a fantastic response. I won't give you the whole thing, but I will give you the opening here.

How great to hear from you and your class, and what great questions!! It is very exciting that they are so inquisitive, and they should always ask questions. I hope I can give an answer that makes sense.

And then he closed with:

I hope this makes a little sense. Keep asking questions, because they only way we get answers is by asking enough questions!!

Dr. Goldberg, the guy who explained math in a way that made me understand the concepts, has changed my life in ways I hadn't really thought about in a long time. The grand majority of the tutoring I now do is for Math. I teach the high Math class.

He taught me that mathematics, if you really become good at it, actually requires a great deal of imagination. I remember him sharing with us with great enthusiasm the moment when I realized--in his own studies--that there are an infinite amount of prime numbers.

I remember going to take a math test one night (ugh, remember having to take tests at night in college?) that was our class and one other class with a different professor. Same math test for both classes, but only the other class was able to use calculators. He wouldn't let us, because he said we didn't need them. He was right.

While I wouldn't call myself a gearhead, he went a long way toward helping me appreciate Math more than I ever had. I'm really happy that he literally continues to affect my teaching of arithmetic, algebra, and all things numbers.

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