I remembered a meme floating around regarding mathematics, commonly referred as math. The meme takes that shorthand name and creates an acronym with it: Mental Abuse To Humans, M.A.T.H. Of course, it may be said in jest, however people these days have been using it as an excuse to avoid mathematics like it’s some proverbial Boogieman. It need not to be this way.
Mathematics is infinite
Here’s the bad and good news, mathematics has been a part of the universe since its inception. You may try to escape to other fields where mathematics is allegedly absent. But the moment you start to buy something from the grocery store is the moment you are already using mathematics in your life, even if it’s simple arithmetic. You cannot escape it.
The innovations and technological marvels that we have today would not have been possible without mathematics. It is through mathematics that we make sense of the wacky world. We make use of it to improve our lives better than before.
“Then why math is so hard?”
Mathematics is difficult if you have not internalized mathematical reasoning. The current educational system is not apt for teaching math considering how they must cut corners to appeal to the lowest common denominator in a classroom. See what I did there? 😉 Joke’s aside, this leaves no room for schools to teach students mathematical reasoning. As such, schools more often than not rely on throwing down information of mathematical concepts and expect students to commit them to memory without answering much of the why’s of the concepts.
Lucky for us, math has not changed drastically over the years unlike technology. Anyone with an internet connection or access to a library can pull up books and videos to learn, no matter what you start with.
“But why even practice all of math if my calling does not require it?”
Sure, I don’t expect people to use high-level math for everyday life. However, there are two things you will definitely acquire by diving deep into mathematics: logic and reasoning. From there you can be more decisive and analyze the world around you to discover truths. You’re also giving your brain that mental workout to keep yourself sharp. Ahh, but wait… Math is mental abuse to humans, so I guess you have to be a masochist if you want to dive deep into math. (Just a healthy dose of masochism.)
I encourage people to conquer their fear of math by tackling the concepts you truly never understood. It’s alright if you have to start at the bottom of the ladder because you will quickly pick up the pace. The important thing is to learn reasoning and how to write proofs your solutions to problems. After that, you are free to explore whatever mathematical concept that piques your interests. You are only limited by your curiosity, so go nuts!
And as always… HACK TO THE FUTURE!!
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Larry Flint (Hustler magazine) taught himself calculus. So it can be done, if there’s the will.
One serious problem we’ve had in education is we keep cutting advanced classes and appeal too much to the lowest common denominator. So smart kids go thru high school bored out of their minds.
I sure was super bored in my math classes. I was lucky my high school had advanced math courses.