This summer I am interning with Professor Erica Walker, a professor of Math Education at Columbia’s Teachers College. Professor Walker was recently chosen by the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) and the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) as the lecturer for the Etta Z. Falconer Lecture at the MAA MathFest. In regards to this lecture and the others she will be giving this summer, I am assisting Professor Walker prepare material for the lectures, as well as coordinating orders of her books for the events. Working with Professor Walker on the lectures has really shown me how there actually is a request to have conversations about the way we are teaching math and how we can always be working to improve that, especially in groups of individuals our society tends to forecast as “just not good at math.” Professor Walker’s Falconer Lecture is named “‘A Multiplicity All At Once’: Mathematics for Everyone, Everywhere,” which she came up with from an art piece with a similar title; the connections she makes to everyday things to math and math education have really enhanced the importance of the field that I wish to be in and has only made me more excited.
Along with her lectures this summer, Professor Walker is also teaching a course entitled, Math in Popular Culture. Similar to the title of her lecture, the course really delves into the fact that math is literally around us at all times. This recurring theme has really made me think about the “math-phobic” culture that sometimes creeps its way into the people around me, from my friends to my own SAT prep students. I hope I am able to learn, through this opportunity to work with Professor Walker, how to really show those people that they shouldn’t be math-phobic and try to find ways to make math more accessible because it really is everywhere. If we as a country could decrease claims of math phobia we could lead to so much more discovery and, in my opinion, more fun! I have always been a fan of finding “Easter eggs” in popular culture that reference other popular culture, and I think Professor Walker’s course will do just that but with math, which is incredibly fun! Also, helping Professor Walker prepare for teaching the course is giving me really good experience about what it takes to create a syllabus and really create content to teach to students. Obviously, Professor Walker is on a higher level that I won’t be on for a while in my teaching career, but it is my first time getting to see an actual professor create their syllabus, and it is making me truly excited about creating my own lessons plans and such for when I teach.
Lastly, I will be helping Professor Walker prepare to take sabbatical in this upcoming fall. Aside from making sure she has everything ready to take the time off, we are going to be working on preparing and decluttering her office space. Her office is currently brimming with different math education resources and texts, and I cannot wait to paw through them and really see how pedagogies and curricula have changed over time and even over locations, as she used to be a high school teacher in Atlanta. Just from my first couple of weeks working with Professor Walker, I know this experience will be incredible!