Math is boring. We hear that every day. But there are exceptions. Consider Sir Isaac Newton. He matriculated at Trinity College at the University of Cambridge in 1661, became a Fellow in 1667, and created the “Newtonian” branch of physics. But many may not be aware that he was a master doodler while sitting in math class.
A number of years ago, I visited the University of Cambridge library, and happened across an extraordinary display. It contained class notes of Sir Isaac Newton, taken while he was an undergraduate student. The notes were taken in meticulous handwriting, with doodling along the borders of the pages. These doodles were of mythical animals and creatures (what buried mathematical concepts lie therein?)
I was reminded of this today, when I read in The New York Times of the YouTube postings of Vi Hart’s “doodling in math class.” I am not suggesting that she is today’s Sir Isaac Newton. I do believe that she has touched upon a very important approach to teaching mathematics – connect with the students in a way that captures their imaginations. I do believe Sir Isaac Newton would approve!