ALEXANDRIA, VA. -- I hate math. It has nothing to do with my life. I am angry at the people who invented it so that I have to do it. I’m in algebra. Sometimes it’s ok, but when I can’t do it, I am frustrated. There are too many numbers and I don’t like to write them all down. But I don’t get full credit for my problems if I don’t show the work. Why do I have to show the work if I can just think of the answer? I could just use the calculator. Why do I have to do math at all?
Almost every student I tutor expresses your same displeasure with math.
It sounds like what you really hate is frustration when you can’t do the problems, writing everything down when you already know the answer, and learning something which seems irrelevant.
Even though we don’t always know why we are learning something, eventually we see a reason for the information itself, or for the process or discipline we used to learn it. Education is never wasted.
Why show the work? Writing it down is making an ‘information’ deposit in the brain, or saving the process. This is how learning happens. When an answer just comes to you, the essential process you will need later for solving more difficult problems is not saved unless you show your work.
Even though it appears that math was invented just to make students miserable, math actually existed long before man. The truth of the Pythagorean Theorem existed thousands of years before it was figured out. Pi, the ratio between the circumference and diameter of a circle, was a realization, not an invention.
Math has everything to do with your life. Nothing, including you yourself, would be here if math had not preceded it. Could you find just one thing that has nothing to do with math? My students have proposed snow, skate boards, clouds, art, football, stories, tree bark. . .
Math was in place before creation was possible, including creation of planets, stars, and universes. Math is the basis of all existence.
Learn to observe your world through your geometry eyes.
Merrily Preston is an Intentional Life Facilitator, who lives in Woodbridge. Her column is exclusive to Local Kicks. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or use online form at www.anintentionallife.com