Friday, November 13, 2015

Are You A Mathematician?

I flew out to New York last Sunday. An older gentleman on the airplane sitting next to me saw me working on this idea in Desmos and simply asked, "Are you a mathematician?"

I hesitated. Not sure I know why

I think my hesitation roots from me having this impression that mathematicians exist only at the college level. They do math all the time. On chalkboards. Wear white coats. Have frizzy hair. Stand in front of chalkboards full of symbols and equations. Yes, I know. Very stereotypical.

Why did I hesitate?

Yes, I am a mathematician.
I love thinking critically. 

Yes, I’m a mathematician.
I love building number sense.  

Yes, I’m a mathematician.
I'm scared of math problems in which I lack the skills to solve. 

Yes, I'm a mathematician. 
I love being challenged by a good [math] problem.

Yes, I'm a mathematician.
I love using numbers to make sense of the world around me.

Are you a mathematician?
Yes. Don’t hesitate. 



  1. I know the feeling. Seems pretentious for simple math teachers (middle school math at that) to consider ourselves mathematicians.

    So I hear you and appreciate your post. It rings true.

    By the way, I searched for a definition of mathematician and got:

    an expert in or student of mathematics

    Seems good to me.

  2. Love it! <3

    I agree, it can feel pretentious to call ourselves "mathematicians", but thanks for the reminder!! YES we are mathematicians!!

    1. I hear you on being pretentious. Does it work for athletes? If I played baseball for a minor league team and not a Major League team, I'm pretty sure I'd still consider myself a baseball player. Is that a fair comparison?

  3. Great post! I always refer to my students as mathematicians and want them to see themselves that way. I never considered how I would answer if someone out in the "real world" asked me that question!

    1. Yes, it caught me off guard when I was asked. Hence, my hesitation. I'm proud to be a student of mathematics.

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