Mathematics. Why do we talk about mathematics with a negative tone, negative voice, negative attitude? All of mathematics-all genres, all forms are constructed from humans’ observations of our natural world. Even algebra with its unknowns and letters for numbers is really an accounting system of those unknowns. Even more surprising is that I am writing about mathematics so calmly. I know several of my mathematics teachers from my middle and high school days who would be more than a little surprised and maybe one or two who would be downright flabbergasted!
On the other hand, I use mathematics as a tool to keep track of my earnings, savings, what I owe in taxes, how I pay for my food, housing, clothing, etc. I use mathematics for observations, data collection and verification, simple counting, and keeping track of stuff.
Mathematics is man-made. It is a set of rules for manipulating the number of things we have, had, or want. And yet, people post this “impossible” number problems or number patterns on social media, particular FB, and ask for the correct answer or how is this answer possible or to somehow mock the ability to see and apply patterns of counting.
Even algebra is being discussed as unnecessary because who really used algebra in the real world? If I had all of the answers to everything, then I wouldn’t need algebra. But algebra helps me predict my future earnings or holdings; algebra helps me see possibilities; algebra helps to clear my brain; algebra helps me to reason and think critically. Some people do cross word puzzles or Sudoku or word searches or . . any number of brain-busting activities.
As a geophysicist friend said to me more than once, numbers are our friends. Learn from them. Use them just as you would your pencil, your car, your microwave. Numbers are tools to help our lives. . .figure out stuff. Embrace them.