Math Team Places Emphasis on Growth and Enjoyment


REEHAM CHOUDREY/ SAGAMORE STAFF Math Team members wait for their event during a GBML competition in the cafeteria on Jan. 13 2016.

Rachel Myers, Staff Writer

You are given 10 minutes to do a set of three problems. Students from competing schools work diligently around you and the only sound that can be heard is scribbling on test sheets. A teacher announces that you have fifteen seconds left. This may seem like a nervewracking experience, but this is nothing to sweat about if you’re a member of the math team at Brookline High, because beating the competition isn’t your top priority.

The stress free environment of the math team aims to focus less on competition and performance and more on making the club accessible to students of all abilities.

The team is advised by math teacher Sue Flicop, and led by three captains. They are currently ranked 18th out of 38 teams in the Greater Boston Math League (GBML competition). The club meets Wednesdays after school in room 262.

According to senior captain Robby Lamont, the environment of the math team is stress-free and relaxed.  

“There’s snacks, and people have made friends with each other on the team so there are tables where people sit together and you’re going at your own pace for most of the time. On the last question set of the day, we usually time, but even then, it’s pretty low key,” Lamont said.

But according to Junior and captain Jacob Feldgoise, this low-key setting is in place on purpose.

“We try to make sure that people who come to math team understand that we’re not trying to win, we’re really just in it because we enjoy doing math problems, and we want to learn,” Feldgoise said. “I’m sure if we really tried to, we could be near the top, but that’s really not what we’re focused on as a club.”

Sophomore Lydia Xing explains that for some other schools competing, this is not the case.

“I know Boston Latin, who always places first in the GBML competition, meets four times a week, and assigns homework. We’re too relaxed for that,” Xing said.  

Anyone who wants to can join the math team, and there are no requirements to have highly developed skills, according to Lamont.

“You don’t have to be in advanced, or honors. I mean, I’m not even that good at math. If you have fun and like solving problems, then I’d recommend doing it; that’s why people join,” Lamont said.

Xing also said that the kind of math done on the math team is very different from math done in school.

“With school math there’s a method and a really specific way to do it with computing and solving, but competition math has less of that. You have to figure out the method, and that’s way more fun,” Xing said.

According to Lamont, after going through a problem set, there may be one question that only one person understands, and that person will explain it to the rest of the team.

“Whoever gets it will walk us through the entire problem, and these aren’t necessarily the captains. It’s important to recognize that a lot of us aren’t great at math, and we’re not always going to be able to get everything right. It really is about collaborating with one another,” Lamont said.

Jacob Feldgoise said that at the end of the day, what most unites the team members is their love of math.

“We want to make it a place where anybody, as long as you’re interested in math can come and enjoy themselves,” Feldgoise said. “If math isn’t your thing, don’t come, because you’re probably not going to like it. But if you enjoy math and you struggle a little bit, you should still come because it’s a really great time.”