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by Carlos Sotuyo


A few words about my philosophy of teaching:


1. The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery, wrote Mark Van Doren.

A mathematics teacher is someone who assists students in understanding the underlying logic that is always present in a mathematical statement. As Howard Eves said: the study of mathematics furnished the finest training for the mind.


2. I encorage my students to ask why. Always ask. Always, why? Of course, I don't have all the answers: most of all, I want to instill in my students "all the curiosity", and the need to search for answers.



3. Play. Play with numbers, ideas, geometric shapes in the space. Space and patterns, key concepts to understand mathematics.

Albert Einstein said it this way: If A is success in life, then A equals x plus y plus z. Work is x; y is play; and z is keeping your mouth shut.


4. J. L. Borges once said: I have preferred to teach my students not English literature but my love for certain authors, or, even better, certain pages, or even better than that, certain lines. “Professor Borges: A Course on English Literature”, p.259, New Directions Publishing

Borges idea is that a teacher rather than a subject, teaches love, enthusiasm for a subject or a mere line or symbol. It could be an mathematical idea, or verse.


5. When I was in 9th grade, so many years ago, I found a biography of Ludwig van Beethoven.  On the first page, the book had printed this quote from the great master: To do all the good one can, to love liberty above everything, and even if it be for a kingdom, never to betray truth.

I memorized it and became part of my self.



Two videos:

'Stop teaching calculating, start learning maths' - Conrad Wolfram on how re-conceptualized maths in education can step up to real-world needs.


Richard Feynman talks about Algebra


Richard Feynman was a Nobel-‐prize winning physicist:

"My cousin, at that time,(...), was in high school and was having considerable difficulty with his algebra and had a tutor come, and I was allowed to sit in a corner while (LAUGHS) the tutor would try to teach my cousin algebra, problems like 2x plus something. I said to my cousin then, "What're you trying to do?" You know, I hear him talking about x. He says, "What do you know 2x + 7 =15," he says "and you're trying to find out what x is." I says, "You mean 4." He says, "Yeah, but you did it with arithmetic, you have to do it by algebra," and that's why my cousin was never able to do algebra, because he didn't understand how he was supposed to do it. There was no way. I learnt algebra fortunately by not going to school and knowing the whole idea was to find out what x was and it didn't make any difference how you did it, there's no such thing as, you know, you do it by arithmetic, you do it by algebra, that was a false thing that they had invented in school so that the children who have to study algebra can all pass it. They had invented a set of rules which if you followed them without thinking could produce the answer: subtract 7 from both sides, if you have a multiplier divide both sides by the multiplier and so on, and a series of steps by which you could get the answer if you didn't understand what you were trying to do."

The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short Works of Richard P. Feynman


NYT, Richard Feynman: "Richard P. Feynman, arguably the most brilliant, iconoclastic and influential of the postwar generation of theoretical physicists (...)"