31 Jan

Op-ed: Studying Mathematics

In my opinion a majority of people do not like mathematics. This is largely because many people are not particularly good at it and this means many people cannot wait until they no longer have to take it (this applies to many people who are good at maths as well). If you yourself are good at maths and conceptually understand how interesting it is then you are one of the lucky ones.

I would like  to recommend a text called “Lockhart’s Lament” which highlights some of the problems. The second half of it is where concrete examples of the problem with people being confused and put off by maths in school are presented. The tone is a little bit ranting however the points are sometimes quite powerful.

This probably comes from formal education. We can all remember being bored out of our minds at school. The way i like to think about it is that the teacher is just as bored as you are. They know that a good part of what thy are doing is pointless and drudgy. They know that it is hard to force everybody to keep silent and still when you have a room of 20 young people. It is important to remember though that most of them want to see you succeed.

What made class a lot more enjoyable in mathematics at least was the knowledge that i was on top of the work and that i was ahead on the work. This ensures that you are less dependent on the teacher and means that you can relax more during classes. This means you can contribute productively during classes. One of the big contradictions about school is that in order to contribute to the class you need to be somewhat on top of the work yet to be on top of the work means that you do not particularly need the teacher.

Too often in my opinion teachers come under blame for issues that are no really their own fault. So long as the teacher is nice enough and gets straight to the point most students should have no problem. The only way to master any skill is to practice on your own and to practice a lot.

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