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RIP Mr. Escalante

I’d just like to take a moment to remember Jaime Escalante, who died today at the age of 79. I’ve talked about this East LA math teacher whose antics were given a national stage in the film Stand and Deliver before, and out of all the films I’ve seen that try to do justice to mathematics, this one does the best job. So thanks again, Kimo, for reminding us that skill in mathematics, just as with anthing else worth doing, comes from hard work and dedication. Although, I’m sure that a cool hat certainly helps.

Mathematical badass.

A Lack of Math in the Movies

Apologies for my absence – academic life has recently forced me to put the blog on hold. Things have cleared up now though, and I have a backlog of things to discuss, so let’s get right to it.

Last month, Jennie Yabroff wrote an article for Newsweek discussing the new film Precious. I haven’t seen the film, but this trailer makes a fairly strong impression:

The film has received a nearly unanimous positive response from critics. The main character, Precious, begins the film as a 16 year-old illiterate middle school student, but after transferring to an alternative school, she is able to find hope with the help of a teacher who encourages her to keep a journal and write in it daily. The theme of finding redemption through writing is certainly not new to this genre of film, as Yabroff points out. Films such as Dangerous Minds and Freedom . . . → Read More: A Lack of Math in the Movies

Math in the Movies: Stand and Deliver

During the course of my K-12 math education, I was able to watch Stand and Deliver two times during math class. The first time was in 5th or 6th grade, and during this first viewing I was less inspired by the mathematics than by the stellar performance of Lou Diamond Phillips, whose winning catch phrase “I strangled him, his body’s decomposing in my locker” has stuck with me well into my adult life.

The second time I saw the film was in high school, during the month between the AP exams and summer vacation when teachers are generally a little less rigorous with their lesson plans. Wiser now, I was able to more fully appreciate the mathematics on display in the film. I understood what it was like to sit down for an AP Test, and while I’ve never had Andy Garcia accuse me of cheating, I think I can . . . → Read More: Math in the Movies: Stand and Deliver