Summary: BY BARB PACHOLIK, THE LEADER-POST NOVEMBER 16, 2009
Asked if math is still one of the most hated school subjects, Shaun Fallat admits the probability is pretty
When he gets on a plane and the conversation with his seatmate inevitably turns to occupations, Fallat
can usually count on one of two reactions when he reveals that he's a mathematician.
"Either they put on their iPod immediately or they tell me about the horrific math teacher they had in
Grade 7 that completely turned them off. I think only once have I had some meaningful conversation
where someone said, 'I love math.' "
But the University of Regina professor and other math lovers say it's time to calculate the importance
of mathematics in daily life during the province's first Mathematical Sciences Awareness Week, Nov.
It's being held in recognition of the 10th anniversary of Mathematics of Information Technology and
Complex Systems (MITACS), a Vancouver-based national research network that connects university
math researchers with organizations to solve real-world challenges.
In an electronic world that offers instant stimulation, "it just seems that math is behind the times and
students are easily turned off," said Fallat in trying to fathom math's bad reputation.
He noted the majority of people -- if pressed to take a math exam today -- would score at a Grade 6
level because their comprehension has dropped off after leaving school books behind.
Fallat, who has been teaching math since 1999, was especially surprised by a recent U.S. survey that
found parents feel better equipped to talk to their children about drug abuse than math and science.