This is a new entry about math, or maths, or mathematics, whatever you prefer. I usually use math, but maths is the same mainly in UK. It does not matter, both are great.
I have already talked about the importance of mathematics in another entry. Today, returning to the subject, I would like to talk about this matter again, in a more direct way.
The reason is a recent conversation with a mathematics professional, a teacher who is truly desperate due to the very low level of mathematics that we have in Europe (at least). A serious problem, since the lack of knowledge of mathematics entails many problems for students, not only in their studies, but in life in general as well.
The Pythagorean theorem
Mathematics, the language of the universe and of life.
A couple of days ago I was talking with a mathematician from the mathematics department of a certain european university. This professor has given several conferences and written several informative books, whose main objective is the importance of teaching mathematics at all levels and ages for all students, so that they learn to know this subject in an optimal way. .
My conversation with the teacher revolved around an educational math project that I am carrying out, and on which I asked him for a possible collaboration. His response was very positive, always taking into account the complexity involved in entering into collaborations with public institutions.
But here, and now, I am not here to talk about this project, which seems to be able to go ahead and be useful for mathematics students. What I want to transfer to this blog is the other part of my conversation with the professor: the desperate, difficult, and chaotic situation in which most of the students who enter careers where mathematics plays a fundamental role find themselves. Not only the mathematics course itself, of course, but also engineering, physics, chemistry, and others where the mathematical base is a necessity of the first order.
Math & Physics work together to explain the universe
Mathematics as the way to understand the world.
In general, we could say that every student of a career, whatever it may be, should have sufficient knowledge of mathematics to be able to deal with many daily problems in science, engineering, and of course also in the humanities. Because, let’s not fool ourselves: there are people who don’t even know how to solve mathematical problems that are too basic in daily life.
I was impressed by the testimony of this professor. I was really struck by their desperation when explaining how they see, year after year, the arrival of students from high school with an exasperatingly low level of mathematics. How they have to spend many hours explaining subjects and concepts that they should already know. And how this has an enormous impact on the quality of the teaching they want to impart.
To ignore mathematics is to ignore the future.
There is a general concept about mathematics that it should be boring, tedious, and that its learning should be hard and full of suffering. It seems that the minimum effort to pass the test is a joy, to be able to get rid of that hellish subject. And that, in most cases , people think that, with math, the knowledge acquired is useless.
All this is false. completely false. Knowledge of mathematics, at least at a high school level, is essential for an enormous number of life issues. But not necessarily because we are going to apply them to this or that problem; the reason is that, by learning mathematics, we learn to think. By learning mathematics we can understand much better a large number of problems that life poses to us. Because mathematics helps us understand that many problems can be reduced to questions of logic and rationality. If we learn mathematics, we will be learning to be coherent, with our thoughts, and with our actions in the face of a huge multitude of highly diverse situations.
Some people can’t solve this easily
Mathematics applies to all aspects of life.
For all these reasons, we can deduce that mathematics is not only used to solve mathematical problems. They are not only used to solve this or that exercise; They serve to understand many aspects of our lives, and to be able to apply solutions to those problems in a coherent, logical, and functional way. If we learn mathematics, we are learning that the universe and life are governed by mathematical laws. And, therefore, if we know mathematics, we will be able to apply that knowledge, and obtain very diverse solutions.
Let’s take the case of hoaxes and fakes on the Internet. Many are based on false premises, which can be proven mathematically. A person with a good background in mathematics will be able to see that a large number of these hoaxes are clear falsehoods, which become apparent as soon as we analyze the hoax.
Because mathematics teaches us to reason logically, and hoaxes on the Internet lack logic and coherence. Therefore, learning mathematics will not only help us to pass this or that exam; They will help us to pass many exams that life will give us throughout our entire existence.
Do you want a concrete example of a person with a big mathematical failure? It’s easy to find: Myself. During my youth my level of mathematics was very low, and my problems with mathematics enormous. Then one day, and with the professional help of a great teacher, everything started to fall into place. Little by little the pieces came together, and I discovered, to my surprise, that I could not only pass the math exams, but even get grades that I never would have imagined.
The me before and the me after was the same. Three things changed: my understanding that mathematics is necessary and important, my fear of mathematics, and the support of that teacher, who with a great pedagogical level helped me make the leap to lose my fear of mathematics.
Wow! That’s complicated! Not really, just needs some work
Losing fear is the key.
And that’s the secret: lose your fear of math. I have never been a genius with mathematics, far from it. But the important thing is not that; the important thing is that I lost my fear of mathematics.
Today, and thanks to having taken that step, I can get on Wikipedia and read about physics and engineering topics that I am so passionate about. I can’t understand the details, that’s obvious. But at least I am able to follow the main thread of many various problems and topics.
Many young people arrive at university with a terrible level in mathematics. And teachers have to waste a lot of time on something they should already know. In fact, in many careers the subjects of mathematics and physics are common in the first years, and they are subjects that cause many students to drop out.
Why? Because they did not have the level, and, very important: because they saw mathematics as an enemy, with fear. That has to end. If we want to take an important step in the development of high school students preparing for technical, engineering and science careers, we must take the step, and remove the fear of mathematics from those students.
Euler’s Identity, the most beautiful equation
Finally, a piece of advice: don’t let yourself, or your children, get more and more stranded. You cannot study a chapter if you have not understood the previous chapter. Mathematics, in many ways, is like a ladder. We will not be able to climb a step if we have not previously climbed the previous one. Understanding each topic is essential, to acquire the elements that will then be applied to the next step.
In this way we will be able to have students well trained in mathematics, without fear, and sure of being able to control any situation that requires a logical solution based on mathematics. They will appreciate it in their exams, but above all in life, because don’t forget: an important part of life is mathematics. And, if we don’t know that language, the rest of the languages will have very, very limited usefulness.
With a little effort and work, and overcoming fear, mathematics will open our minds to incredible universes. It’s worth it, I tell you, I was totally useless with mathematics.
Giving students with problems in mathematics a chance is to open a path for their future. Because the language of mathematics is the basis for many potential futures. Let us not deny them that future.