Biola’s Matthew Weathers Knows How to Get Your Attention

The Biola University Chimes posted a feature on mathematics Professor Matthew Weathers, in which the author wrote he is “a professor that brightens your day during class by bringing color to an often not-too-interesting subject.”

When introducing new lessons, Weathers often produces illusory and comical YouTube videos to pique the curiosity of students before he begins. His latest video on imaginary numbers caught Huffington Post’s attention, not to mention 13,000 page viewers (and climbing). His remarkable Halloween Math Class has over 1 million views.

Watch as Weathers’ video appears to break the very boundaries of the Windows 7 operating system. He steps out of the confines of application windows in an impressive display of computer wizardry to the delight of his students. This is also done in combination with Weathers in-person, who is hiding out of sight but nonetheless contributing to the entire presentation. By the end of the video it is safe to assume these students are ready to learn math from a person who has immediately gained their interest and attention.

It’s worth looking into some of the comments posted to his latest video. One user posted, “Holding their attention does little if you don’t teach anything during that time.” Sure, but Weathers’ video here was meant to introduce a concept in an entertaining and humorous way before the lesson began. Another user responded: “Clearly the lesson did not end where the video stopped, so don’t be so quick to say this method of teaching didn’t help those students to understand the concept by actually making the lecture interesting.”

The subject of mathematics carries with it a stigma of high difficulty and incomprehension. For some—like yours truly—the stigma is as real as it is infuriating. Weathers teaches a “Nature of Mathematics” where students learn about math’s history before diving into understanding it. Even at first glance the results are fascinating, especially to non-mathematically inclined people. Check out this screenshot from a PDF found on the Nature of Math’s website:

A young middle-schooler learning the Pythagorean theorem may not necessarily find it fascinating that they’re learning math that is over 2500 years old, although an undergraduate liberal arts major just might. Many students appreciate understanding the “why” behind data and facts, and a class like the one Weathers teaches appears to offer exactly that.

Keep up the fascinating video work, Professor Weathers. Becoming a YouTube sensation may just inspire a little more interest in the elusive subject of mathematics.