Al-Khwarizmi is a name that I was not familiar with, but the work we did in class about him intrigued me. But before we get too far, it is important to know a little background on Al-Khwarizmi. He was a part of the Islamic Golden Age, which was a time that many scientific and mathematical works took off. In fact, he was even one of the first directors of the House of Wisdom in Baghdad. He also wrote a book, but this book was not a love story or picture book, it was The Compendious Book on Calculations by Completion and Balancing. He wrote a math book. It contained a lot of information about numbers and algebra as he knew it, some he gathers and others he may have created. The crazy thing is, he never thought of negative numbers while writing the book. But that is not the part that I found most interesting, it was the way that they solved different equations verbally.
In class, we were given time to read through the solution to the problem "a square and ten roots are equal to 39 Dir-hems". Just reading that I had no idea where to start, so I kept reading and it became more and more confusing to me. He was telling us step by step of what to do, but I was not used to the terms that were used or the only verbal solution. After we broke it down in groups and as a class it made sense and it was so neat to see the connections!
This mathematician and problem got me thinking more as a role of a teacher too. I struggled to see how to solve this problem because it was all new to me. I did not understand the language and it was set up in a way that was unfamiliar to me. To solve and follow the problem I needed more information. Often math can be a subject that seems foreign to students and the symbols or way it is written doesn't make sense. As a teacher, I will want my students to struggle with problems so that they can learn, but I also want to give them the tools that they need to learn and understand what the problem is asking. Also, I started to think more about the how math is shown with visuals and symbols and how helpful that is for students to see the problem and solution more than hearing it.