Letter from Wendy Petti at mathcats.com
I found your site while checking the traffic to my site (Math Cats - www.mathcats.com); I noticed that a visitor this evening had arrived at Math Cats through a link from your "Unschooling and Math" page - http://sandradodd.com/math. I read the lengthy piece in the right column by Linda Wyatt and the descriptions in the left column, though I haven't followed the links yet. I was tickled to see the description of Math Cats.
Everything I've just read that Linda Wyatt wrote resonates deeply with me, even though I and my three children were all schooled in the conventional way. But the only time I loved math in school was when we learned how to make some polyhedra out of triangles. We actually just cut out templates in school, but I was so intrigued that I went home and figured out how to draw perfectly even rows of equilateral triangles so that I could make as many icosahedra and other polyhedra as my heart desired. And I eventually became one of those teachers who was rather uncomfortable teaching math; it certainly wasn't why I had gone into teaching; I just endured the math lesson each day, until my wise principal once observed one of my math lessons and pointed out that if I put as much creativity and enthusiasm into teaching math as I did into teaching creative writing, my students would love math as much as they loved writing. Wow - that was a revelation for me. From that point on, I did everything I could to make math class fun, hands-on, and meaningfully connected to the real world, and yes, my students did start loving math. So now I'm trying to do the same thing in the online environment.
I'm frankly amazed when kids sometimes write to tell me that their math skills have improved from visiting Math Cats, because that is certainly not my priority, though I think it's pretty cool if it happens along the way. I mostly want kids to discover the same joy and beauty in math that I experienced in my youth when I began turning ordinary pieces of paper into beautiful geometric ornaments.
So anyhow, I just want to say I'm glad to have discovered your page, and I'm looking forward to reading the other material on your site. Also, I would be very happy to correspond with some of the unschoolers who visit your site. I'd like to know more about the unschooling approach to learning. After visiting your page, I think I'd like to add an "unschooling" idea bank to the grown-up cats' section of Math Cats, and you can be sure I'll be recommending your site!