I'm GREAT with numbers but BAD at math!

It's true. My lack of love for all things math related has been well chronicled here and in my workshops throughout the years. Why started as a rough patch in the 8th grade became a bad break up between me and geometry during my sophomore year of high school. We haven't spoken sense.
I'm not saying that I wasn't at fault in the breakup, but let's just say to my way of thinking, I was more Katie Holmes than Tom Cruise in this relationship. I would use the more topical Brad and Angelina reference, but I'm not sure who I would be in that case.
As I said, I am bad at math but great with numbers. I'm kind of a data geek. I am fascinated by numbers and how they shape (or don't) our decision making process, specifically in music education.
For instance:

  • If I told you that 9% of students and 7% of teachers are absent on Mondays, would you change learning new drill to Wednesday?
  • If I told you that student learning is optimal at 72 degrees, would you change the thermostat setting in your room?
  • If I told you that 35.77% of music was written in just four keys, would it change the way you practice scales and arpeggios?
  • If I told you that 58% of students who start an instrument quit prior to high school graduation, would you approach recruiting differently?
  • If I told you that New York has the highest average median wage and lowest unemployment for a music educator, would you put your house up for sale?
  • If I told you that color pallets (numbers) change the way students learn and process information, would you change the light bulbs when you rehearse certain pieces
  • If I told you that 50% of you are going to leave the profession, would you change the hours you work?
  • If I told you I get sleepy after lunch, can we just schedule all of my productive meetings for morning and my afternoon meetings at Starbucks?

You might find these factual tidbits interesting. It might pique your curiosity or validate something you have long suspected. You might even want to call me Cliff Clavin. But, will it inspire a call to action or invoke a significant change? More than likely, not.

l do believe a better understanding of how we learn is important. I believe that better data can lead to better outcomes. I believe that understanding scope and sequence matters and that teaching through better literature makes a difference in how and what students learn.

Yes, I believe in all of this because I believe in numbers, but I don't understand the "math."

Math [math-uh-mat-iks] noun. (used with a singular verb) the systematic treatment of magnitude, relationships between figures and forms, and relations between quantities expressed symbolically.

I want to understand the systemic questions of greater magnitude and the relationships between them. In reference to the above points, I want to understand:

  • Why we still teach on a traditional Monday-Friday, 8-2:30 schedule.
  • Why we have kids in outdated facilities that impede learning.
  • Why our approach to pedagogy is based more in history than science.
  • Why some students quit music and others don't.
  • Why some places/cities/people in America value music education more than others.
  • Why we still believe that teaching and learning occurs only in rooms with numbers.
  • Why we have done so little to keep ourselves from self-destructing as a profession.
  • Why I don't just quit and get an afternoon job as a barista.

Numbers provide data. Math provides context. Numbers provide information. Math provides perspective. Numbers tell the science. Math tells the story. Numbers are finite and concrete. Math is infinite and convoluted.

Numbers are information. Math is the treatment of magnitude, relationships between figures and quantities.

The NUMBERS I understand. It's the MATH that has me perplexed.

But then again, I am good with numbers, but bad at math.

Have a great week!