By Mutiah Fauzan
Since I was a kid I was never fond of math. It was not because I was bad at it, but because I was terrible at it. For example, if my poor mother explained to me fractions using pizza as an example, she starts saying divided by 8 equally. But I would silently ask myself, “But how can it be equal when one of us is bound to get more cheese than others?”
My love affairs with math started because of my late father. He worked with numbers all of his life and I always admired that about him. He told me that I should treated math like I treat language. You can tell your version of stories and truth through numbers. As it happens I like solving riddles. I like following breadcrumbs of truth that all these x and y leave behind.
In all my teaching years, I love meeting kids that who dislike math simply because I love seeing them turning from hating to loving math.
When I taught algorithm, one of my students asked me “Why are we learning this again miss?”. I asked everyone to sit on our corner to have discussion regarding this matter. Every question and doubt in my class we always solve it with discussions and/or healthy debate. After all we are educators, it is our job to facilitate their curiosity.
This is what I told them, “Imagine you have a very messy room, and you need to find your favorite pencil inside your messy room, what is the first thing you need to do?” They all agreed that they need to organize the room in order to find that small objects. And I told them that is what the algorithm for. They asked me again “what are we trying to find using algorithm in real life miss?” I smile and said, “It depends on what you are looking for. From your genre of music, your favorite type of movie on Netflix, favorite shop, to the love of your life”. They all laughed with disbelief. I started explaining to them about video games, Facebook, YouTube recommendation and dating Apps and how miraculously these apps know us more than our best friends ever do.
After finishing our discussion all the boys (the algorithms haters) stood up and started chatting to each other. I overheard them saying “Am I going to start taking this algorithm more seriously? Can you imagine holding that much power in our future?” The class discussion turned from Minecraft to solving riddles.