4 thoughts on “Math hurts

  1. What’s really painful is that none of the work teachers make you grind out in school is math. It’s arithmetic, something you will be using a calculator to do for the rest of your life. Math is something most of us never get taught, and from what I hear, it’s really beautiful. I wish that I and my children were taught math instead of being tested and graded and berated on how accurately we calculate.

  2. I’ll tell you what. In the 50’s and 60’s when there were no calculators, and everything had to be done in longhand writing, algebra gave me nightmares. I had the hardest freaking time trying to understand how a letter could front for a number! 🙂

  3. There’s the lanquage of math and then there’s the crappy math that they teach you in school. They don’t want people to love the lanquage of math so they screw with them in school and turn them off to math forever. The Golden Section for example which is .618 and is known as the Golden Mean. It’s everywhere. How much time did you spend in school discussing it? Then there’s Pi. The relationship of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Or 3.14. Every pyramid in Egypt was built using Pi as its principle measurement. An accident? Did your math teacher ever discuss that with you? You only ‘know’ what they want you to know.

  4. I find that “thinking hard” in general is avoided by most of my compatriots (e.g. election 2012).

    IMO, there’s a cultural bias in the U.S. about math in general. It’s widely considered to be something one naturally either “gets” or doesn’t. And this is acceptable to us. Most countries don’t seem to come at it that way; It’s expected that most everyone will be basically proficient at math at a secondary level.

    For me, I had a difficult time with math through high school and only came back to it afterwards when it was required for technical courses. I came to realize that I just needed to learn how to think about it properly. It was a basically that I had a bad strategic approach about understanding it. And it’s easy to create mental blocks by focusing on the boredom and difficulty rather than just relaxing and finding an approach that works to understand. It’s more effective to study, struggle to understand, review your understanding. Math learning is logic and algorithms, not memorizing –so you can’t just cram it in. And often you don’t “get it” on the first, second, or third attempt. Even when it works, you still need to understand what’s going on or it catches up to you later.

    I didn’t really have a fear of math, so I won’t speak to that. Long story short, I went from Ds/Fs in HS Algebra to earn a Master’s in Engineering.

    I recall that some anthropologists studying natural learning discovered that even counting is not natural for humans.

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