Mathematics in the Liberal Arts Tradition

Ravi Jain July 19, 2017

Presented at:
SCL Summer Conference 2017


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 Medieval 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 re-situated 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.


Augustine descartes Liberal Arts Mathematics pascal


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 M.A. from Reformed Theological Seminary, and later earned a Graduate Certificate in Mathematics from the University of Central Florida. He began teaching Calculus and Physics at the Geneva School in 2003. During his tenure there he has coauthored “The Liberal Arts Tradition: A Philosophy of Christian Classical Education,” and has given over 50 talks and workshops throughout the country on topics related to Christian classical education.

Other Contributions by Ravi Jain

What Hath Biology To Do With Physics

Article - SCL Conference 2014

Introduction to The Quadrivium

Article - SCL Conference 2013

Metaphysics Matters

Article - SCL Conference 2012

Recommended Resources

Web Tools for Schools
Article by Mark Palmer in - SCL Conference 2014
Standards and Accountability for Christian Schools
Article by Timothy Wiens in - SCL Conference 2011
Common Core, AdvancED, and Changes in the Works
Article by David Goodwin in - SCL Conference 2015