In Math with Bad Drawings, the author Ben Orlin calls the query in my title the most adorable ever, and I have to agree. Now math is so awesome that it’s hard to believe that we actually have to develop any sort of strategy to entice our otherwise amazing friends (who don’t seem interested) to enjoy it. Post-school, when it is no longer compulsory, we really do have a better chance at changing perceptions. So let’s think of some ways of luring friends ever closer to your world.
Introduce them to the concept of mathematical taste. In other words, if you don’t like a certain genre of music, and that’s the only one that your music teacher ever played, then of course you would dislike “music”. It’s never too late to develop a taste for mathematics, a hunger even, as described by Caroline Herschel in this poem, who at 31 started learning math from her brother only to become an astronomer.
Have them read Mandy Brown’s post on the pastry box, a forum in which 30 people who do interesting tech-related activities blog about themselves. Mandy thought she would always be a language person, and not a math person… until she ended up majoring in physics!
Show them some amazing videos from George Hart at the Simon’s Foundation Site. His most recent, posted just a few days ago is about Permutahedrons and Change Ringing (ringing church bells in beautiful patterns).
Force them to do something like make a Mobius band and cut it in half (always a conversation starter and crown pleaser). Maybe if they are having fun, they’ll want to explore some recreational mathematics. Here’s a brand new Recreational Mathematics Magazine.
Point out that it’s free! One last thing that has always attracted me to mathematics from a philosophical point of view is its egalitarian nature. In a world filled with expensive hobbies that require lots of equipment, travel, or expensive training, one can pick up a pencil (or a box of brightly colored pens if you prefer) and give math a try for free!