Teacher Sedition

Welcome! My name is Matt Enlow, and this is my first post on my new blog.

First order of business: Explaining the name.

I teach math in the Upper School at Dana Hall, an independent all-girls school in Wellesley, MA.

Why do I teach math? In short, because I can’t NOT teach math.

If I did not teach math, I would still play with it in my spare time. I would still regularly baffle myself, and then try to un-baffle myself. I would still talk to people about the strange, beautiful things I had done, seen, and discovered. So I might as well get paid to do all of these things!

I teach math because I love it, and I want to do my best to get others to see in it what I see. Unfortunately, as odd as it may sound, sometimes I think I love math too much to teach it.

Imagine an artist, excited about the prospect of broadening young minds and helping them see the beautiful, transformative, sublime nature of artistic pursuits, being told that 90% of his curriculum must consist of designing corporate logos and pixel art. Or a musician who is made to teach her students how to write advertising jingles and design ringtones. The word “soul-crushing” comes to mind.

Because of the cultures and structures built around education in this country, I am made to take a subject that has inspired awe in every civilization in human history, chop it up into bland, easily-digestible pieces, and force them into my students’ mouths. I am also made to perpetuate practices that regularly convince many students that they don’t have what it takes to “do math,” permanently damaging their ability to learn and grow.

But I can’t. And I won’t.

Thus… Teacher Sedition.

This problem is not endemic to my school, by any means. I love my school, and have no plans to leave anytime soon. This problem is ubiquitous, and I would encounter it, in some form, wherever I taught. There are enough kindred spirits at Dana to sustain me. But I will do all that I can to work within my given constraints, and still show my students that they belong in math class regardless of perceived ability, that they can understand things that initially confuse them, and that the people who refer to math as “beautiful” might not be totally crazy.

My first post (well, okay, second) will be my contribution to Sam Shah’s Virtual Conference on Mathematical Flavors on August 15th. After that, this blog will feature:

  • cool math stuff I’ve been playing with
  • my attempts to change how I do things in my classes
  • my readings and other goings-on during my sabbatical (January-June 2019)
  • other musings

So, basically, my Twitter feed writ larger than 280 characters.

I know better than to promise any kind of posting frequency, but I’m going to set the bar relatively low, at one post per week. We’ll see how it goes.

Thanks for reading. I’m hoping that you get as much out of this endeavor as I do.


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