Math first in Pre-K?

NPR produced a short segment last week on a study that is happening now which compares standard pre-school learning with pre-school focused on mathematics. They found that the average student spends 58 seconds out of a 5 hour pre-school day on mathematics. As you know, here at Social Mathematics, we believe that math is something which should happen everyday.  Math shouldn’t be a big mystery that only the “smart” kids can do. So, naturally, I think this program is great!

“We want kids running around the classroom and bumping into mathematics at every turn.”

The NPR article focuses on kindergarten math eduation, but MDRC has a lot of other initiatives too.  Since NPC didn’t include a link to MDRC’s website, I’ve included one so you can check out their webpage here.

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Happy Fibonacci Turkey Day!


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The Documentation Gods are angry…

Do you remember that code you wrote last year? Yeah, that super great algorithm that you developed that did the Crazy-Hard thing. So, now there’s a problem that’s really similar and it would be great to reuse that code. Only, you can’t find it.  No, that’s no fun. Instead lets say that you DO find it in your well organized folders. Score!

Then you open the god-touched-code-of-awesome-ness and start looking through it, prepared to make use of all your hard work from last year.  But, despite your perfect plan, nothing in the code makes sense. It dawns on you that despite all the warnings that previous grad students have given you, you have no idea what anything does because you didn’t. comment. your. code.


Because at the time, you know, when you were working on the code for 6 hours a day, you thought, “I’ll always know what the user defined variable clim_y_max_kinda means!” I know, we’ve all been there. You should have written down your process, made a few notes so that when you look back you can follow the breadcrumbs of your project!

In business, this type of documentation is vital and necessary because the company never knows when you might leave. But in business, a lack of documentation might be called an oversight… but in grad school, I call it Hubris.

Hubris means extreme pride or self-confidence. When it offends the Gods of ancient Greece, it is usually punished. -Wikipedia

You have offended the Documentation Gods!


And then you stumble upon it.  The elusive and yet commonly used “pizza” variable. And while you have no idea what “pizza” stands for, you can remember being very hungry that day and getting amazing Pizza Luce on your way home…

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Road Ahead


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Learning Tools


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In a world where time becomes more valuable than brains.




In a world where time becomes more valuable than brains.

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Poise and Posture

No matter who you are, no matter what sub-culture you are living in:

You are making a statement
no matter what you choose to wear.

Did you know that your interviewer makes a decision about you within the first two minutes of meeting you? What you wear, how you hold yourself, your hand shake and your ability to produce small talk are all vital and necessary parts of the interview process. The color and pattern of your clothing matters too! But very few people will tell you that. There are many subcultures (including mathematics!) who believe that these things don’t matter… but these skills may be more vital to getting a job than your best proof.

Whatever realm you are walking through, there will be societal standards. If I was a math  professor, then I might be expected to wear an adult, subdued version of “shabby chic”. But if I walked into the administration building, I might need to add a suit coat or I’ll look like I think I are better than everyone else. “See that, Professor? She thinks she is too good to bother putting on a clean shirt!” This is because I failed to notice that the standards of dressing are different than inside the math department:

Societal standards are different everywhere. Sometimes people do things to stand out and get noticed. For example, if you dyed hair teal, then you should be prepared to join the ranks of teal haired mathematicians! Many of us, though, don’t think about fashion at all. In fact, a company that I once worked for informed all incoming interns of this fabulous phrase:


“But I like my comfortable clothing!” I can hear you say. Dressing to societal standards doesn’t mean you have to be uncomfortable the whole time. My current favorite trick is to buy a business polo from the company I work for. Then I wear it on days when I don’t feel like dressing up. I wear jeans and a company polo. All of a sudden, I look engaged and enthusiastic while I’m at work when I really just wanted to wear my pajamas but this was the next best thing.

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