Emily Columpsi

"The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery" -Mark Van Doren

Entry #1: My Mathematical Autobiography


Throughout my academic career, I have always had a great interest and enthusiasm for mathematics. It has always been one of my strongest subject areas, one which I have consistently excelled at.

Looking back at my early elementary school years, I was never very fond of math. I found the countless assignments and worksheets to be repetitive and purposeless; I believed they were not relevant or a true indication of a student’s knowledge. In addition, I struggled with the material because the classes were more focused on memorization and regurgitation than about true understanding, application and logical thinking. It wasn’t until I entered high school that my experiences and feelings towards math shifted to a more positive place. I believe that this change in attitude was, in part, influenced by my fellow classmates  and excellent teachers. Not only was the material presented in a more relatable and stimulating  way, but the strong quality of instruction enabled me to comprehend and succeed at the subject. Furthermore, my teachers’ support and positive encouragement added to my success and understanding. Needless to say, very quickly, I developed a passion for math.

Once I approached grade twelve, math became second nature to me. However, I still enjoyed, and valued, the challenge of the subject matter. Overall, the combination of encouragement, positivity, and sense of accomplishment was the verification I needed to pursue a career in mathematics.

Math, to me, is a human endeavour, discipline, and multidisciplinary or collaborative language and tool. More specifically, it is an methodical/organized area of study that encompasses the logical thinking of structures, patterns, shapes and quantities that can not only be integrated within two or more academic fields, but also applied to real-world situations enabling us to understand the world around us. Thus, math is all around us, making it an important subject to study. In my opinion, mathematics provides several fundamental, or rather necessary, skills. Specifically, these skills include: the ability to see relationships (between content and authenticity), logic and critical thinking skills, problem solving skills, and the ability to identify, explore and consider patterns. Everybody uses or applies math whether they realize it or not.

My minor is dance education. Many people are surprised that I have chosen different areas of study to focus on because they see little connection between them. However, consider the following…

A dance performance is visually appealing because of its artistically composed structure. However, this structure can be described mathematically in sequences, numbers, patterns and relationships. Thus, by understanding the structure of a dance, by simply taking it apart and analyzing it, you are doing math without even realizing it. (My EDAN prof, Ann Kipling Brown, would always make such correlations and connections, I credit her for this example).


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