Readings for Pleasure
One of the symptoms of beginning the school year is that I sometimes find myself with less time or energy to read or study mathematics purely for pleasure. It’s a shame, really, because one of the sources from which I draw strength and joy in teaching mathematics is the joy I feel when I do mathematics for its own sake either at home or in community with others.
Instead of sharing resources dealing directly with the classroom this week, I’ll shout out a few longer-form resources and recent articles about STEM, which can be read with students or read simply for fun. Maybe you will find some of these articles enticing or, at least, a respite from the demands and excitement of the new school year.
If you haven’t already, spend some time seeing if you enjoy the articles in Quanta Magazine. The publication dives into current science and math research in an accessible way through what they describe as “public service journalism.” Just as many math educators strive to spread the message that everyone is a math person, Quanta approaches math and science journalism with a similar lens: that all readers are STEM people capable of accessing the forefronts of the field in meaningful ways.
Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein (@IBJIYONGI) teaches us about Ann Nelson, a theoretical particle physicist who passed away last month and who fought against misogyny and racism in the scientific profession.
Kevin Hartnett (@KSHartnett), in A Mathematical Model Unlocks the Secrets of Vision, helps us understand how mathematics can be used to explain how our brains create images of the world despite receiving very little actual information from our visual system.
Erica Klarreich (@EricaKlarreich), in Decades-Old Computer Science Conjecture Solved in Two Pages, breaks down a proof about the structure of computer circuits using analogies and beautifully crafted diagrams.
Symmetry Magazine is about particle physics with links to outside resources but also many articles of its own. I only learned about the magazine recently through the article Channeling Shuri as a physicist at Wakandacon, which talks about Wakandacon, a 3-day Afro-Futuristic celebration that took place in Chicago last July.
The American Mathematical Society website hosts a diverse body of blogs about mathematics and the mathematics profession. I have recently enjoyed reading entries from inclusion/exclusion, a blog about underrepresented groups in mathematics. In particular, read Decolonize Academia #KūKiaʻiMauna, which takes up the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project planned on Mauna Kea and which challenges readers to think about ones research as also impacting the world outside the explicit inquiry of the researcher.
The passion we feel for the math and science we teach is one way in which we continue to push ourselves as educators, but that passion must be nourished and sustained. Whatever you do to sustain your passion—whether it’s doing math on your own, with adults, or with your students—just make sure that passion drives you to love your students for who they are, regardless of whether they share your same love for the field.