Only dead mathematics can be taught where competition prevails: living mathematics must always be a communal possession.

— Mary Everest Boole

CREDITS: Today’s quote is from Mary Everest Boole. Background photo courtesy of State Library of Queensland, Australia (no known copyright) via Flickr.

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What does the first part if the sentence mean.

Competition prevails when we stress the importance of performance — when we value grades and standardized test scores. In such an environment, the only math most students will learn is a series of step-by-step recipes and rote-memory rules. That is dead mathematics.

But when we collaborate, play with ideas, and compare different solutions, then we build a community of creative thinkers. Math becomes alive. And as life grows and produces more life, so living math grows in understanding and begets new concepts.

For a good introduction to living classroom math, see Annie Fetter’s talk on YouTube. https://youtu.be/a-Fth6sOaRA