- Education and Science
Math - A Language From Mars
If you are a hater of Math like I was then you will know what I mean when I say Math is surely from a different planet. Different planet? Try different Galaxy! OK.
Are you, or were you, one of those people who, when in class, saw your teacher go from human to alien in a second and then start to spew out the formula for destroying earth as we know it? I sure was. I absolutely, positively, detested Math and all it stood for - whatever that was! How many times I desired to have a time machine to go back in time and have a good firm 'chat' with Pythagoras and all these other "thinkers". I would have said to him and all the others - "Listen - you have to get out more. You can't spend your life drawing triangles all the time. Don't you know you are creating a monster for the children of the future? Don't you know that because of you dozens, hundreds, if not thousands of children will suffer from migraines and take tons of Tylenol, Paracetemol, and all the other mols to get rid of the pounding, twisted head that your theories cause? The crease in my forehead, Pythagoras! The crease, which everyone always inquires about - wanting to know if I am worried - it got there because of you and your Math!" Surely, I thought to myself, he would have ceased and went about something else especially when he saw that indeed, the crease on my forehead is troubling to say the least.
So Math was a bane on my existence - like a shadow it followed me all through my school life and would not let up. My teachers would scream at me - "MATH IS LOGIC! DON'T YOU GET IT???!!!" I just looked at them dumbly like the Eeyore that I was.
Year after year passed and my grades kept dropping lower and lower until it seemed like they would have reached the Center of The Earth. To my horror, Math started showing up in nearly every class, a stalker determined to make me return its love, squarish though it was. I resented it when it reared its ugly head in Art and I had to be "Mathematically" precise for Calligraphy. I expected it in Science, because if it would gang up with any other subject Science was the most likely. But it blew me away with my beloved Geography. How dare Math invade the loveliness of map reading? I resolved to fight back. If Math wanted attention -it would get it and be sorry for it.
I focused more than ever in class but I just could not get it. It was like a huge, sound-proof, bullet-proof wall was between me and the key to understanding Math. I could not break the wall because I did not know what the wall was made of. I searched and searched and asked every teacher I could find. No one could help me break the barrier between Math and myself.
One day, at the end of my rope, with chunks of hair in my hand, I heard myself say "I can't."
" I can't." Stopping, I said it again. What did I mean by saying that I couldn't do it? An over-analyst of sorts, I came to the conclusion that I thought that Math was bigger, better, and stronger than I was. The reason I could not get it was because I entered the fight believing that I would lose. My preconceptions were what built the wall.
To take the wall down, I had to decide that I would no longer judge the subject of Math. I would simply look at it for what it was. Not expect anything of it and not look at it as a thing with power. The results were amazing. Math started to look like sums! Those squiggly lines actually meant something and all of a sudden I was speaking Martian and they did not want to take over the world, they wanted Popsicles! Ha, no that was just a bit of my madness there.
I began being comfortable with getting sums wrong. Before I was so scared that I would get the Math wrong, I would not even attempt it. I would just say it was too hard, when really I was underestimating the bit of intelligence that God gave to me. Today I tell every kid who has a problem with Math to stop being afraid of the thing! If you get the sum wrong it is a step toward understanding. That is what learning is all about.
Since then, Math and I have formed a truce. I no longer hate it, nor do I love it, but I have learned to get along with it and respect it. Today, I can hear someone ask for the formula for the circumference of a circle and I can honestly say I feel no terror strike within my heart because not only do I know it but I can solve a problem with it too! There is no escaping Math and if you think about it, it is in everything that you do. Sometimes the difference between understanding Math and seeing it as an enemy is your understanding of your own intelligence. Though you be surrounded by the greatest teachers, they can only lead you so much, the rest is up to you.