This morning Kate Hunter on website Mamamia wrote a humorous post on the 10 things she hated about maths.
She’s right, there are people who don’t get maths, who proclaim their hopelessness with numbers, and who hate it with a passion, much in the same way I hate Brussel sprouts with a passion.
However just as there are math-phobes in the world, there are those who enjoy numbers. I’m a math nerd from waaay back, and here are my 10 reasons for loving maths.
1. Maths is more than numbers. It’s patterns, shapes, angles, curves, and letters. It is visual, tactile and cerebral at the same time.
2. You can get a wrong answer in maths and still be right , well sort of. I remember getting a maths question wrong in a spectacular fashion for a question during my mid year Year 12 exams. However, my workings out of the problem showed the examiner I had understood the concept, applied the correct rules and followed through correctly. I just managed to stuff up a little bit along the way. Applying what you learned and blagging your way through got me through in the end.
3.Rules for maths don’t really change, so much as evolve. On the other hand, teaching methods do change- my son is learning maths differently to the way I did, which did involve a lot of rote learning and flashcards of my times tables. He is learning patterns, measurement and the fact that maths is an everyday part of life. We haven’t yet gotten to long division, and I hoe we never do- I loathed long division!
4. You wouldn’t have Google, Facebook, Twitter, nor the Internet without maths. The biggest conveyor of information, pictures, communication tool is all down to the fact that groups of very clever people nutted it out with numbers, algorithms and lots of 1’s and 0’s. Though I ask the people of Twitter- why 140 characters? Why? Why? Why?
5. There are 26 letters in the Western alphabet and look at how language has evolved, with new words being created and added to the Oxford English Dictionary- with just 26 letters. Numbers, on the other hand, stretch to infinity! It is the universal language which makes it all inclusive, rather than exclusive. One of my maths lecturers at uni was very hard to understand when speaking, but his equations were much easier to comprehend.
6. Numbers cAN make you joyous- the amount of money you have in your bank account on payday, when you’ve had your long service leave paid out, and when your husband’s EP is the number 1 selling title for a label.
7. Do you budget, bake, crochet, knit, drive? Do you play Scrabble or Sudoku? Are you blogging or writing to a deadline of time or to a word limit? Do you write poetry, songs, or even sonnets? Chances are you are using your numeracy skills, and you don’t even know it.
8. Being a ‘word’ person or a ‘numbers’ person aren’t mutually exclusive. In Year 11 I could recite tracts of Shakespeare’s Macbeth and knew the value of Pi to about 50 places. I can count in French, Italian and German, and love reading
9. 567, 796.48, 994, 004.78. In my early days as a librarian in a public library, I got to know the Dewey Decimal Classification (which classifies and organises non-fiction books in a library) very well. Dinosaurs were located at Dewey number 567, the Olympic Games at 796.48, Australian History was at 994 and the Internet was at 004.78. Surely the combination of words and numbers is a marriage made in heaven?
10. My dad was a maths teacher. He made maths fun for me, and if I was sick at home would leave me little sums to work out. He showed me not to be afraid of numbers and was extremely patient with me when it came to teaching me new concepts (he was my maths A teacher in Year 12). The only times he was angry at me was as a dad, and that was a lot! I think the number of white hairs on his head increased exponentially when I reached puberty.
My mum always claimed to be ‘rubbish’ at maths, but she was the budgeter, paid the bills, and managed the family’s finances. In some way it was a bit of a self-esteem issue, as she was seen as the less clever child in comparison to her elder sister.
There are so many different aspects to mathematics, and numbers that it can be a bit of a generalisation to say you hate maths. I don’t want to see this hatred or fear normalised, especially amongst girls and young women. There needs to be more positive angles given to stories about maths (pun intended).