Lockhart’s Lament

Here is the full essay in PDF format:

Lockhart’s Amusing Essay on How Maths is Misunderstood

And some beautifully-written aphoristic sentences from this essay:

“Math is not about following directions, it is about making new directions.”

“I don’t see how it’s doing society any good to have its members walking around with vague memories of algebraic formulas and clear memories of hating them.”

“But my point is not just that the current system is so terribly bad, it’s that what it’s missing is so wonderfully good!”

“What other subject shuns its primary sources—beautiful works of art by some of the most creative minds in history—in favour of third-rate textbook bastardizations?”

“A good problem is something you don’t know how to solve. That’s what makes it a good puzzle, and a good opportunity.”

“A good problem doesn’t just sit there in isolation, but serves as a springboard to other interesting questions.”

“We learn things because they interest us now, not because they might be useful later. But this is exactly what we are asking children to do with math.”

“You remember what matters to you.”

“Yes, but before you can write your own poems you need to learn the alphabet. The process has to begin somewhere. You have to walk before you can run.

—No, you have to have something you want to run toward.”

“Mathematics is not a language, it is an adventure.”

“Mental acuity of any kind comes from solving the problems yourself, not from being told How to solve them.”

“In any case, the most valuable skill for a scientist or engineer is being able to think creatively and independently. The last thing anyone needs is to be trained.”


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