I was good at arithmetic in school (adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing), but I never had a mathematical mind. I struggled through algebra. I don’t retain dates or phone numbers well, despite my good memory. When a friend decided to major in math, I didn’t understand it. How boring, dry, difficult, cold!
I’ve changed my opinion since homeschooling. D and M have the Rossini affinity for numbers. They’re interest ignites mine. But beyond that, I’ve learned that math can be beautiful!
I first heard the term poetic math in this article from Mater at Magistra. Author Lesley Payne says that math, like literature, can ” instill in our children awe toward the beautiful, poetic aspects of creation.” Scientists use math to discover laws of nature. So shouldn’t lovers of beauty appreciate math as well?
Math, poetry and patterns
One thing that transformed my view on math was thinking about it in terms of patterns, not numbers. Joseph’s coat, patchwork quilts, and even poems have patterns. In fact, we used all of these to include math in our unit on Joseph and His Brothers.
The simplest nursery rhyme has a pattern, a rhyme scheme that could as easily be called 1-2-1-2 as a-b-a-b. Shakespeare’s sonnets have meter. Haiku is especially mathematical.
Greg Tang has written several books of poetry, riddles, and fables containing math. Marvelous Math: A Book of Poems by Lee Bennett Hopkins is another gem. (Yes, you can buy them all in the homeschool section of my store at Catholic Spirituality Blogs Network).
Resources that will help you fall in love with math
Here is a spattering of other resources I love:
Living Math seeks to “close the gap between math and history, science, literature and humanity created by the isolated way we traditionally approach math education.” Julie Brennan has volumes of free material on her website, plus curriculum you can purchase.
For parents’ enrichment, artist David Clayton talks about the numbers 7 and 8 in the liturgy
Then there is the video, which I could watch all day–and it’s math! Use this for your studies of the Golden Mean, the law of thirds, or patterns in nature in general.
This evening, J was carefully descending the steps on his feet, a skill he is just learning, saying, “That’s one stairs, that’s two stairs, that’s three stairs…” To which I replied mentally, That’s poetic math!
Share with us: Do you have any great sources for poetic math? Feel free to link to your own or others’ blogs in the comments.