Language and mathematics. For many, this would appear to be synonymous with corn tortillas and flour tortillas; both of them useful to put food in them, but only one makes a genuine taco. Two areas of knowledge; two languages: one is the domain of emotional expression, passion and opinions; and the other is world of steely logic, precision and truth. Nonetheless, if we were to scratch the surface we’d see that these two languages have much more in common than one might expect.
When Murat Gökalp, one of my colleagues and friends, a Math and Economics teacher, asked me if I would like to join him in his planning process to look at how we could make ATL visible in mathematics lessons, not only did I appreciate the opportunity to look at how there is always a possibility for all mathematics teachers to be language teachers, but also explore the role of language in mathematical inquiry.
Silent at first, I listened to Murat explain the concept and goal of the learning experience to me, cautiously waiting for the time when I could actually contribute something meaningful. Thus, it was when he fragmented the big understanding he wanted to achieve and spoke about the possible components of the journey where I could see how language and mathematics could work with the same amount of authority with the a common goal in mind.
As I started visualizing how letters and symbols danced in front of me, I decided to record our conversation, knowing that I would be unable to recall everything we would say, and acknowledging that a lot of interesting ideas might go unnoticed. So, with Murat’s permission, I would like to share the 20-minute conversation we held as we discussed chance in mathematics.
Pictures of the notes that helped Murat and I shape our thoughts.
The tasks given to students, as designed by Murat.