Words Get in the Way

Posted Sep 13, 2021

All mathematics rely on representation, whether in symbols, pictures, or models. Unfortunately, as is the case for many areas of study, our language can be a hindrance to communicating mathematics with clarity. In fact, academic language is so problematic that teaching licensure programs must directly address the ways in which preservice candidates are prepared to navigate the gaps between colloquial and disciplinary meanings.

Thus, it will come as no surprise that mathematicians and mathematics educators have been working diligently to find new ways of exchanging math content without encumbering words. 

Dr. Brent Yorgey (Hendrix College) has curated an impressive collection of wordless representations for some complex constructs in mathematics, as part of his website, The Math Less Traveled.  Here’s a sample:

Words Get In The Way Graphic

If you have a sense of what picture should come next as part of this sample, email jsmith@otterbein.edu with a picture – NO WORDS!

Jeff Smith
Graduate Director
Master of Arts in Educational Mathematics

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