October 29, 2009 – Math and Data Matter

1.      Tyler Stewart
2.      Paul Sheats

1.      Leslie Boyette
2.      Keelin Haw

Hans Rosling (McClurken & O’Donnell)

Arthur Benjamin (McClurken)

History of Mathematics (McClurken)

http://www.unfpa.org/data/ (McClurken)

Personality Test Required for McClurken AND O’Donnell

(O’Donnell – E-Mail results to lboyette@mail.umw.edu, don’t post in blog.)


Find Personality Type Here


  • O’Donnell

    The video was well good. I give a thank to Leslie and Keelin for making that our only one. I’m not sure how math has anything to do with personality. It seems the opposite, drab and whatnot, but I’m in favor of steering this talk away from Calculus and toward statistics.
    The personality test was fun. I’ve taken the same test three or so times, so it isn’t accurate for me anymore, but I always alternate between INTJ and INFJ. Based on the context of this class, INTJ won the day this time. I should be a military officer. Math is lame. I hope I see the light after this discussion.

  • O’ Donnell
    I agree that statistics is a much better use of time than calculus. Calculus may teach you a new way of thinking but I find statistics to be much more useful in the real world, or at least easier to comprehend in real world circumstances.
    I also really enjoyed the personality test. I have taken the same type of test several times before but mine is usually pretty accurate. I am a consistent ENFP and i think the description also fits me pretty well. I am excited to see how the results will tie in to our discussion tomorrow.

  • The videos were great. Hans Rosling’s video was interesting. I was fasinated by how the different countries data changed over the years and how some patterns were repeated. I really liked Arthur Benjamin’s video I don’t know how he can do all that math in his head but it was amazing. The History of Mathmatics was fun to watch and I learned a lot about how calculating things has changed over thousands of year. I’m not sure how this discussion will go math and data seem like similar topics but at the same time how are they related in this discussion?

    I’m not really sure how the personality test plays into this but I got INFJ.

  • The first video was an excellent talk. Watching what Mr. Rosling can do with his data chart was very interesting. Watching these graphs develop, why doesn’t the government look at them and take them in consideration to fix certain problems in society. The speaker for the second video sounds like a tool, but it’s pretty cool how he can multiple so fast. This guy is a walking calculator, but how can he do that so fast? I can add that fast but probably not multiple and square root them. The third video reminded me watching a video in elementary school about math. Math has many ways it works and how it came about. Is their a stop in the history or math, or is math going to keep continuing in growing. Tomorrows class is probably going to go off topic, but hopefully not. Even though math is a really boring topic to talk about.

  • McClurken

    I think math is tremendously important in our day-to-day lives and those who don’t think we need math are very ignorant. I love math and I don’t care what profession you go into, math will be utilized. More about the talks, the first one was pretty awesome, I went to his website and was watching the dots move all over again. It was indeed a great way to prove his point about child mortality and to show how the countries all over the world are progressing (or not). The second video was quite good, I watched it for my “like” videos at the beginning of the year and thought his math skills were pretty darn intense. The 3rd video was very entertaining to me: sure, I knew most of the stuff on the video, but it was interesting to see the symbols used before and how they resemble numbers we use today. For the test, I thought my answer was pretty darn accurate: Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging. I was reading the second article, the profile on the characteristic you receive, and I could relate to all of the circumstances they described. Tests like this always make me laugh because by the end of it you know they are leading you into one personality or another…how many times can they ask you if you’re an organized person?? They are always fun, though, I enjoy them. 🙂

  • I think this is probably the most boring topic yet. I am truthfully not interested in the least about it, but hopefully good questions will be brought up tomorrow. I don’t really know what the personality test had to do with this but it was interesting.

    I DO agree that statistics is much more important than calculus or algebra will ever be. I do think that math is used in many professions and that it’s important to some extent, but I don’t agree with people who say its a NECESSITY for everyone.

  • O’Donnell

    I’m also not seeing the connection between the vid and our personalities. It’ll be interesting to see how this goes. I’m not much of a numerophile, but I loved physics back in high school. My physics teacher loved art, and I did my presentations on involving vectors when sketching/painting etc and that was a jolly old time.

    I’m an INFJ (every-time I have taken the test it’s been the same).

  • McClurken
    I personaly love Hans Rosling’s gapminder software. I think that it is cool how you can see how countries have developed both economically and through health. The second speaker is amazing! How does he manage to do it?
    I think that we use math more than we realize, its in our everyday life. I’m not quite sure how the personality test is going play in to the conversation. I don’t really like math, so I’m curious to see how the discussion will go. Lets see how much math can be discussed.

  • Thank God I’m sick and won’t be in class tomorrow. I’d rather watch paint dry than talk about math.

    I agree with everyone else when they say that the videos and the personality tests do not really relate to eachother, unfortunately I won’t be able to find out. I have not taken statistics or calculus so I don’t know which is more important, but I do agree with ashlee when she said that algebra is very important.

  • I’m not sure where to start for this blog, because truthfully, I have no interest at all in Math. I have never been good at it in all my years of education. I do think that it is one of the most important subject matters to study for your everyday life, but I feel like there is so much information that you learn in math that actually isn’t necessary. There is so much information in math that is not relevant and you will never use in the outside world. I found Rosling’s gapminder software very interesting because you can see how different countries have developed through time economically and I think being aware of this information is very important and significant. I believe that statistics applies more to your everyday life more than algebra or calculus does because you are more likely to apply statistics to life experiences. The personality test? Not sure where math comes in with that…

  • McClurken

    my type is ESTP
    So first off, WOW that math magician…made me soooo mad! I wish i could do math that quickly. I mean, i thought i was good at math but jeeze. I’m not really sure what that video was supposed to teach however, it was just very entertaining. I found it amazing how quickly some of these developing countries….oops…are well developing. The fact that china actually went backwards then drastically increased in life expectancy because of their health increasing so much before actual income increased was great. The US pretty much did it all at once, but i think that taking the approach that China did will help all of the countries that are behind. I still do not see what his problem with the term developing countries is, i mean they are developing. Even with hsi argument, i still see countries as either developed or developing. And yes we have not always been a developed country, we were a developing country at one point and time but that doesn’t mean a country always has to be developing. Anyways, the third video was really interesting see all the different ways that people started off counting and such. The abbocus sounds like a neat invention for the time even though i am not entirely sure how it works. However, not going lie, i am very thankful that the calculator exists today. I mean yes you can do everything without a calculator, but i have no idea how these brilliant people figured out the formulas to figure all of this stuff out. Not only that, but to take that formula and figure out how to write a program that can calculate the answers to them so quickly and efficiently. Basically these intelligent math people deserve a cookie in my book.

  • INFJ
    I don’t understand how data-points have anything to do with my personality. Nor the ability of that man to quickly multiply weird numbers in his head faster than a calculator. The first video was interesting, but it dealt more with the developing countries becoming equal with the US than it did explaining math. I guess the point of this video is what we can learn from data-points and its easier to understand these points as opposed to just looking at numbers. I did feel like there was too much information on a given graph, with the size of the dots. It was much easier to understand when he put a few countries only visible at a time. The youtube video was adorable but I didn’t get much out of it, except the desire to learn how to work an abacus and be a wealthy merchant. Arthur Benjamin is amazing however. I like how he stores large numbers in his head as words and then recalls them. I wonder what in his brain is different from other people, who say, can’t possibly figure these math equations in their minds. We need math in our day to day lives, like those days you just wake up and feel like constructing a large apartment complex.

  • I agree with basically everyone. I’m not a big fan of math and I have no clue why we chose this topic. I do think that statistics should be taught more than calculus for economic reasons. I thought Rosling’s speech was very intriguing. His economic statistics with different countries was very eye opening on how they have changed over many years.

    It is going to be interesting to see how the leaders approach this topic tomorrow.

  • So these videos weren’t bad, but I’m not sure how the later ones are going to relate to our discussion. Hans Rosling, however, was really cool– I love his talk. I like the way he makes data more relateable and understandable by making it visual. However, I wish he wouldn’t gloss over the details so much; I’m pretty suspicious of statistics, so I like to know exactly what they are telling me. He does prove his main point extremely well– that of the continuum of countries in our world rather than a dichotomy. I agree with him on the importance of data and transparency; these facts should be made available to the world.

    I’m not sure how the personality test will fit in, but it should be interesting! I’m an ENFJ, but I hate personality tests, so I might have messed with the results a little. I don’t like answering the questions so simply, because it often depends on my mood or I’m more than one thing. I also don’t like being categorized so simply. The ENFJ profile does fit me to a certain extent, though, or at least one side of me.

  • O’Donnell

    Today’s world basically runs on numbers and statistics. A good example is sports. All sports revolve around numbers. It comes down to winning percentages or in baseball batting averages, home runs, rbi’s, etc. in football there are number of touchdowns or yards per catch or even completion percentage. In baseball stats help coaches decide on lineups or what pitcher is going to throw that day.

    Although not many of us, except math majors, enjoy math or think it’s important, some of it is. For example calculus to me is less important than stats or basic geometry. Stats and basic geometry may actually be used in the everyday work force. I myself am not a fan of math, but there some things we have to know.

  • O’Donnell

    I am personally not interested in the subject, and I hope that this talk will lead into an interesting direction. I did enjoy Hans Rosling’s talk because even though it did incorporate math, it incorporated it in a fashion in which I was interested. I enjoy learning about different areas of the world, and most of his talk dealt with how match can be beneficial to learn the economic histories of certain countries.

    I agree that statistics is the most important type of math there is out there. While calculus and algebra and good for certain professions, I believe not everyone can benefit from them. Statistics, however, is commonly used, and I think more students should be exposed to it.

    –Stacey Peros

  • Mathematics plays an important role in everyone’s everyday life. We wouldn’t be able to do simple tasks without using math in some way or another. I thought that Arthur Benjamin’s talk was amazing, I’m not quite sure how he manages to do that but he definitely has a gift. Wouldn’t it be nice if it came to all of us that easily? I’ve always wondered why math comes so naturally to some people and is so much harder for others. We can do incredible things and solve many problems using mathematics therefore it is a subject everyone should be able to master.

  • Donnelly Phillips
    October 28th, 2009 at 7:53 pm


    I LOVE MATH! I might not be the greatest mathematical thinker, but I absolutely adore it. I’ll do the same equations over and over to see how many different ways I could do it. When I don’t figure out problems, I stare at the problem until I’ve memorized it, and every night the same problem runs in my head until I solve it. I solved physics problems that way. PHYSICS. My passion and skill of math can probably be derived from my autism, but wherever it comes from and in spite of not being incredibly skilled at it, I love math.

    The first video was kinda…okay…I guess…well…not superior in any sort of way. I watched the Arthur Benjamin video. That one was AMAZING.

    I suppose even though that one statistics vs calculus video was for last week, but is rather applicable now. I think that statistics kind of is a point on the path of math beside calculus, but it is not too expanded or accessible. Like in my high school, there was AP Stats, but there was only one period that it was offered. It needs to become a second endpoint on the high school path of math, not just a detour, if you know what I mean. Anyway, we shall discuss tomorrow.

  • The magician’s show was absolutely fascinating. Truly a beautiful mind at work there. I believe that most people could do that, if only they were enlightened as to the tricks that he developed to do that caliber calculation in his head (assigning the larger numbers a word is a fabulous ingenuity).

    I enjoy mathematics, and I plan on pursuing my career in math for as long as I find it interesting. The issue of whether or not we use math in the world around us is not particularly interesting to me because I believe that ability in math is linked to reasoning skills, and we will certainly use our reasoning skills throughout our lives. This is not to say that statistics is far more useful than Calculus, but if you master calculus you will undoubtedly find statistics a “synch” as they say.

  • Watching the video that Arthur Benjamin did his talk on his mathmatics skills, made me feel as though I was very dumb. I was unsure on whether he is really good at math or if there was some magic trick that he was not sharing with us. I wonder if he was born with this ability to do math this well, or if he was given some talent in mathmatics and trained himself to be this good. Along with him being able to multiply really well, he was able to store very day of the week for the 1800’s, 1900’s, and 2000’s. Seeing that I question what is different in our brains. What makes him so able to do all these different tasks that I could not even imagine how to do? Watching the cartoon about the evolution of mathematics was pretty interesting. This reminded me of the particles that are getting shot around the large loop underground in Europe where they said that the research found at this experiment could erase everything we ever learned about math to be true. Math seems to be evolving all the time, and would this just be the next step to erase it all and start somewhere new? Who knows, but we know so much now, what more could we discover?

  • Today’s talk was alright I guess. Everyone pretty much agreed that we need math. It helps you learn reasoning skills, and allows you to teach your elders how to do tips. Splitting the check fairly- hoorah for math. I don’t think we really decided why society has decided that math is just hard, or hard for women. I asked Leslie, the other classes discussion leader what they decided the personality test was for and she said “well it went with the data matter part of the talk. we wanted to tally up who got what result and then compare it to other people but that didn’t work cuz i only got 4 results. so that failed” So I understand why we did the personality test now, if only it had went according to plan. I think the leaders did a good job today, there are only so many preparatory questions you can think of when you don’t know which way the discussion is going to go. I really think that math is more important than people realize. I don’t really think about math when I use it every day. I balance my checkbook, see statistics when I walk around. I think we were right about teachers not being enthusiastic about math, or not being familiar enough with enough ways to make sure every student is capable of understanding. I think people go into math classes already mentally defeated. When you decide that math just “isn’t your thing” you aren’t going to go into it with an open mind. You have already failed. And hopefully this talk we had will help me go into math realizing that learning this is helping me. Helping my reasoning skills, and like chris said, sharpening my brain.

  • Like I said in my previous post that I think math is boring, even though I want to become a accountant. I just think the concept of it is boring, but I still love doing it. That might sound strange, thats how it is. During the discussion we talked about how other cultures take a look at mathematics and how it works. Well maybe if we found another way to look at math and other ways to use math. My question that I had early that is math ever going to come to an end, or is it jus going to keep building. Another topic that was brought up is that is when is the stopping point of math. My opinion is that you should only have to learn up to what you need that type of math for. Math is such a broad topic that it is hard to find a solution to anything, but it was great talking about it today in class.

  • McClurken

    I was surprised and impressed with how well today’s discussion went! I thought that there wouldn’t be much to talk about, but we had a good discussion. I think we covered almost everything– I don’t have much else to add. The only thing could have been we could have discussed the perception that girls aren’t as good as boys in math and science, although I think we probably all agree that that’s nonsense. In relation to a mention somebody made about the purity of logic in math, I found this amusing: http://xkcd.com/435/

  • O’Donnell

    I thought today’s discussion was more interesting than I thought it would be. I thought it would be more math-focused, while we focused more on whether math should be a major focus in education. It was more of a continuation of our previous Ted talk.

    People do not think of math as a fun subject because it is not as much of a subject for visual learners; while we can learn with real-life examples in other subjects, math mainly involves copying notes from a board, at least from my experience. Perhaps if there was a more creative way to teach math, more people would be interested in it.

    Although some math is not necessary for all majors, such as calculus, I do believe that some math, such as geometry and statistics, should be taught to all students. I think it is a serious problem that calculus is more widely taught than statistics, and it bothers me that there were only a few sections of statistics at my high school. I also do not believe that we should rely on a calculator to do the math for us. I think that with calculators, there is always room for error, and I believe that a calculator should only be used to check your work.

    –Stacey Peros

  • So yesterday’s talk went better than I imagined it would. I didn’t expect everyone to talk as much as they did, I half expected everyone to just agree and say, “Yea, I don’t like math but we need it.” But most people had an opinion as to what level of math we needed and why we needed it. Overall i feel good about the talk and feel as though we didn’t get off topic that much and Tyler and I asked some good thought-provoking questions.

  • McClurken

    I think that yesterday’s talk was very interesting. We use math more than we realize. The UMW surveys really make me mad. They do not even survey 1/4 of the school, and what is the point of doing surveys like that. With the surveys, you can not be 100% sure that the participants are even telling the truth.
    I also think that the way that the way that some teachers teach the curriculum can sometimes be confusing. There might be another simple way to do it. I think that math is viewed as not good or whatever in society because not a lot of people have self confidence in their work. In that case, it is not math, but the person who is doing the work.

  • Donnelly Phillips
    October 30th, 2009 at 3:45 pm


    So…yeah, I really was not prepared to defend mathematics as much as I should have been. Honestly, now that I think about it, math is not all that creative. It’s not like that’s a bad thing. It doesn’t need to be creative to be fun. Well, not for me, at the very least. And like I said (or meant to say), I am going to teach math, not work with it by my lonesome. Math is something I love, but teaching is what I really want to do. I think I’ll find myself at a good balance of creativity and structure in my life.

    As I said in the pre-comment, Statistics and Calculus need to be offered as equals in high school.

    Yay math!

  • It was interesting listening to how much math everyone thinks we need and how it applies to our everyday lives. I still think that math can be applied in no matter what you do and is tremendously important. Sure, statistics may be more applicable now, but potentially in the future calculus will dominate if we find more use for it….? I think we all strive for calculus because it is such a hard subject, whereas instead of aiming for statistics because it is easier and we use it more, therefore know it already. That may not make any sense, but I learn from doing and by being on the job I am learning statistics whereas I would like to learn something crazy in school, like calculus. I just contradicted what I said in class, meh, I don’t know what I want. I love to learn, that is all I want.

  • This discussion was alright. I think we came to a conclusion that math is not COMPLETELY necessary in all majors or in high school. I still think statistics should be required but I do not think calculus is necessary unless ones major needs it. I agree and disagree with Edmund when he said you can not be creative with math, because with calc and algebra and such you can not, unless teaching it. but with geometry, and building with logic tools you can be.

  • O’Donnell

    I don’t really feel like we talked about math all that much. We talked about other odds and ends for around an hour, and I felt like we only had around 3 points to do with math. Basically, learning reasoning skills is good. I was disappointed that the personality test data collection backfired so much. It would be great if math wasn’t taught like a dead language.

  • Not sure how this went but I could only imagine that a talk about math wasn’t thrilling. I do wish I was there to hear what Donnelly said seeing as he is a math major and what Edmund said seeing as he is an english major.

  • McClurken

    So the class pretty much went as expected, minus a few surprising opinions. Never thought we would have such a math enthusiast especially in Chris. It was definitely nice to see that some people truly do love math. The leaders did an excellent job presenting us with questions to lead discussion, maybe too good of a job since they were questions with so many answers or questions that a direct answer really couldn’t be given like how much math do you need and when is it enough. I still after giving this much thought can’t really give an answer to this. You definitely need math but who knows how much you need. Maybe it is different for every person, and it is obviously different depending on what industry or what job you are trying to go after. Either way i am pretty sure i will obtain enough math for whatever i decide to do.

  • McClurken

    The discussion went really well considering I wasn’t expecting something in-depth. What I found is that we all have different opinions but one thing is for certain is that we all agree that we need math. We also said that as a society we are more accepting to say “I don’t get math” than “I don’t know how to read.” The way I see it is that reading is an early learned skill and math is a later learned skill so we expect people to know how to read rather than do math. I wish we could have gone a little further with this but over all it was good.

  • The talk we had in class this day I felt was rather boring, except for the fact that it is now known that some people love math. I feel as though math and data are very important, they are what they are. They don’t really represent anything new. Especially math as there are certain formulas that you plug information into and get an answer and that’s it. It is not like a writing assignment where you can take the information you have and make it into something of your own with your ideas. With math it’s not about your ideas, its about formulas and knowning how and when to use them.

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