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More on Vi Hart and passionate communities

January 18, 2011

I just saw this, and had to blog about it. Vi Hart, the mathamuscian I blogged about last month, has hit the big time. She’s inspired some wonderful copycats, and recently discovered that snow angles are more properly termed “2-D snow linkages.” And her latest story, Wind and Mr. Ug is just wonderfully whimsical story with an incredible twist:

And you know where there’s something awesome going down, the NYT can’t be far away. Vi Hart was featured in today’s NYT:

Bending and Stretching Classroom Lessons to Make Math Inspire

The first fun fact I discovered in this article is that Vi didn’t take a single math class in college. Nada. Zilch. The empty set. Her father, a geometric sculptor and computer science professor, got her hooked on math by taking her to a conference on computational geometry at age 13! Here’s how see described the conference for the NYT:

“I was hooked, immediately,” she said. “It was so different from school, where you are surrounded by this drudgery and no one is excited about it. Any gathering of passionate people is fun, really no matter what they’re doing. And in this case, it was mathematics.”

This is a truly powerful quote, because it gets me thinking of so many things. Did Vi not take math classes in college because she didn’t want to be around students who hate math and might kill her love of the subject? What role does being a part of a passionate community have in building a love of math or anything really? Is it enough to have just a passionate teacher? Is it enough to be just a passionate student? Or do you need more—a community? What are the implications of this idea for schools and workplaces? Why is it our sports teams are much more passionate communities than out classrooms?

This also gives me a mission for our Math Salon—to be a passionate community around math. And a quick progress update on that project—the students working on this completed a wonderful proposal, and were all set to present it to our service learning funding board last Tuesday, but they were snowed out. Time to reschedule.

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