Math's secret language


But if taught properly they can see that the "x" and "y" are like words that form a beautiful poem and they'll delight themselves when they learn this secret language and understand the beauty of algebra.
Hriday Kondath, A beautiful subject


Algebra can be beautiful, can have an elegance usually reserved for poetry. It can be fun and calming and charming. These are also good reasons to offer to teach algebra.


Once upon a time, at the end of the day, I left an example like this on the whiteboard:




The next morning, I came in and there it was almost glowing in a band of sunlight.

I was still standing, admiring it, when a learner walked in.

"Isn't that lovely?" I asked.

"Yes," she said. And, you know, I think she meant it. Maybe. Mostly.

What?

(My learners are kind, patient and supportive people.)

But it was lovely. Algebra is often lovely.

And I'll tell you something else - it's a lot easier to learn than subtracting mixed numbers or figuring out two-year's worth of compound interest on $1500 at 7%.

Having a hard day? Need a minute to zone out? Want to calm your breathing?

Forget about your zen and yoga and lemon tea. Sit down and do some algebra. Just work through the equations for a bit.

Now, translating word problems into algebra.... I'll admit. That's a horse of a different colour.


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