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Math is the poetry of the mind

by erinvrAdd a comment

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What, after all, is mathematics but the poetry of the mind, and what is poetry but the mathematics of the heart?
–American mathematician David Eugene Smith

If at first glance poetry and math seem as far apart as data and doughnuts, a closer look reveals a strong connection. Especially in more traditional poetry, mathematical concepts influence the structure of a poem: its shape, the lengths of its lines and stanzas, and its patterns of rhythm and rhyme.

What would a Shakespearean sonnet be, for example, without its rhyme scheme (a-b-a-b, c-d-c-d, e-f-e-f, g-g) and its use of iambic pentameter? (An iamb is a unit of two syllables, with the accent on the second syllable; the pentameter tells you there are five of those units per line.)

Iambic Pentameter

Even people who profess to know nothing about poetry will recognize the strict rhythm and rhyme scheme (a-a-b-b-a) of the most memorable and maligned of all poetic forms, the limerick.

Left Brain/Right Brain – Pathways to Reach Every Learner

By Diane Connell

By better understanding our own neurological strengths and weaknesses, we can adapt our lessons to reach all of our students.

Sam, a fourth grade student, starts to draw every time I teach a new concept or explain an assignment. We’ve been in school for only two weeks why is he tuning me out already? Dorothy says that she feels ill every time I begin an art lesson, and asks to go see the nurse. Why doesn’t she enjoy art as much as the other children do?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to start the year with a single plan that would ensure that we could reach all of our students? As we know, such a plan does not exist. The students we teach have diverse learning styles that require different approaches. So how can we adapt our teaching to reach and engage as many of them as possible, as often as possible?

Interestingly, the answer lies in first knowing ourselves as teachers. One way to do this is to understand how our own “neurological style” influences the way we teach. Each one of us has a left-, a right-, or a middle-brain preference, and believe it or not this significantly influences our teaching patterns. By understanding the processes at work in the brain, we can better help our students to explore their own individual preferences.

This quiz will help you learn whether you are a left-, right-, or middle-brain teacher. Please take a few minutes to complete the quiz and tally the results.

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Creativity is essential now more than ever

Chris Staley
May 9, 2011 8:25am EDT

Which is more important: art or science? Most people would say science. In answering this question I can’t help but think of the word Sputnik, and my grandfather James Killian.

In 1957, when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first man-made satellite, it extended the Cold War into space and altered the trajectory of my life. At that time my grandfather was the president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and shortly after Sputnik was launched he was chosen by President Dwight Eisenhower to be the first full-time scientific adviser to the president. In my mind, my grandfather became “Mr. Sputnik.”

What most people did not know about this leader of science was that he also was an artist. He was an active painter and sculptor. I have vivid memories from my youth of walking around his cluttered studio above the garage and seeing works of art in progress. Equally indelible are comments he made about art’s ability to inspire us all to learn.

When school boards and college administrators are faced with budgetary cutbacks, art classes are often the first to be deemed expendable. However, in these times of accelerating change we need art in our schools more than ever.

Why? At its core, art is about asking questions and exploration. More than ever, we live in a world that needs creative solutions to difficult social, political and economic problems.

The essence of art is creativity. If we are afraid of failure and consumed with getting the right answer, it inhibits our ability to explore a wide range of creative options. The search for new ways of seeing and understanding is at the heart of both scientific and artistic discovery.

President’s Committee Makes Strongest Case Ever for Arts Education

No doubt Obama was the first candidate for election to the Presidency to have an art and humanities plank. Early on he championed the idea that, "To remain competitive in the global economy, America needs to reinvigorate the kind of creativity and innovation that has...