Here are 10 quotes about mathematics and math education that we think every teacher, parent, and student should know.
#1. “The highest achieving kids in the world are the ones who see math as a big web of interconnected ideas, and the lowest achieving students in the world are the kids who take a memorization approach to math. The United States, you won’t be surprised to hear, has more memorizers than any country in the world.”
– Jo Boaler, professor of mathematics education at Stanford University.
We love this quote because it speaks perfectly to one of our core values: for a student to excel at math, they must understand the concepts, not memorize facts. And at MEK, we are dedicated to helping them learn these complex and interconnected ideas.
#2. “Some mathematician, I believe, has said that true pleasure lies not in the discovery of truth, but in the search for it.”
We couldn’t have said this better. Math is about critical thinking, curiosity, innovation, and joy!
#3. “Many students get an answer right because they see what the teachers does and copy the same steps. However, they do not understand why those are the steps. Thus when the situation changes, the words of the problem change, they are lost. We must teach students to understand why. We must teach them a deep foundational understanding of numbers, so they can create the steps themselves.”
– Gunn Ahn, founder and headmaster of MEK Review
Some of the most rigorous high school admission exams only test 8th graders on pre-Algebraic concepts. Yet 8th graders in Algebra or Geometry classes struggle. Why?
Because these exams require students to have a deep understanding of core mathematical concepts and an ability to independently reason through a complex word problem.
#4. “Mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas.”
– Albert Einstein
When students begin to see math as poetry, as another form of language, expression, and understanding, we know we’ve done our jobs!
#5. “A student who solves a problem by memorizing a formula, forgets the formula in a year. Then, they are no better off than they were a year ago. A student who solves a problem by understanding the true nature of the question will never forget that ability.”
– Binal Patel, Director of MEK Learning Circles
Math education should be about helping students learn a skill, not just facts. Or even more simply put:
#6. “Good math teachers don’t teach students how to get an answer. They teach students how to think.”
– Pranav Gupta, Director of MEK High School Test Prep
#7. “In mathematics the art of proposing a question must be held of higher value than solving it.”
– George Cantor
We love a solved question. After all, we help students prepare for standardized tests, where there are right answers and wrong answers. But we can never avoid, nor want to avoid, the simple truth that for a student to thrive in mathematics, they must see it as more than solving questions. It is a field of great imagination, where their minds should fearlessly explore and discover.
#8. “The only way to learn mathematics is to do mathematics.”
– Paul Hamos
We love all these philosophical musings about math, but math is also a skill that has to be practiced like writing, painting, or skiing. So we’ll end this list with 3 more practical quotes.
At MEK, we give students usually three times the amount of problems to solve as they have in the classroom! Why?
Because only after practicing, practicing, and practicing can they train their minds for accuracy, speed, and deeper understanding.
#9. “Practice doesn’t make perfect. It makes permanent.”
– Tony Kim, Director of MEK Exam Prep – Math
We’re pretty sure this is not an original quote, but there is still a reason why our Director of Exam Prep always says it. This is the essence of both the incredible benefits of thoughtful, dedicated practicing and the enormous pitfalls of rote, mindless homework completion.
At MEK, we teach our students the difference.
#10. “If you stop at general math, you’re only going to make general money.”
– Snoop Dogg
We’ll end with a more light-hearted quote here from a famous rap artist (and former high school Calculus student) because it reminds us that math has so many practical applications! As STEM career fields continue to grow increasingly important in today’s world, we always want to show our students the real-world ways in which mathematical skills are useful, and how the innovation of math can help solve real-world problems.
Want to learn more about our math courses? Check out our Math Learning Circles program for 4th – 8th graders!