Mathematics in the Liberal Arts Tradition

Ravi Jain explores how teachers in 7th–12th grade mathematics can teach in a richer manner that cultivates the soul through a pedagogy of puzzle, proof, and play.

While today math teachers often struggle to convince their students of the usefulness of the discipline, the tradition famously advocated the study of mathematics for a completely different reason. The ancients and Medievals believed the study of mathematics to play a crucial role in developing wisdom and the faculty of human reason in students. But in order for this study to truly develop the mind, it must be taught in a soul-shaping manner and not merely as a collection of useful algorithms. This session will explore how teachers in 7th–12th grade mathematics can teach in a richer manner that cultivates the soul through a pedagogy of puzzle, proof, and play. In the light of these themes we will reevaluate the role of the Cartesian coordinate system, the interface between geometry and algebra, and the role of models and manipulatives in higher math such as Calculus. We will also explore how a properly resituated mathematics naturally opens to questions of transcendence and even God as it did for Plato, Augustine, Pascal, and Descartes. Join us to delve more deeply into mathematics in the liberal arts tradition.

Ravi Jain

Ravi Jain graduated from Davidson College with a BA and interests in physics, ancient Greek, and international political economy. He worked at various churches, received an MA from Reformed Theological Seminary, and later earned a Graduate Certi cate in Mathematics from the University of Central Florida. He began teaching Calculus and Physics at The Geneva School in 2003, where he has developed an integrated double-period class called “The Scienti c Revolution.” In this class the students read primary sources such as Galileo and Newton in order to recapitulate the narrative of discovery while preserving the mathematical and scienti c rigor expected of a college-level treatment. During his tenure there, he co-authored The Liberal Arts Tradition: A Philosophy of Christian Classical Education. He has given more than 100 talks and workshops throughout the country and overseas on topics related to education, mathematics, and science. He has two young boys, Judah and Xavier. A er the duties of the week have been discharged (by 8:53 Saturday night), the few remaining hours he enjoys spending with family, friends, and his wife, Kelley Anne, whom he met in Japan.

Sign up for our Newsletter

Stay up to date with the latest SCL news, events, and resources!