Why Math?

“I hate Math”, “Math is stupid”, “I’m not smart enough to do math”, “I’m totally math illiterate”

How many times have you heard the above statements from friends, family, your kids, or maybe even from yourself?

It seems, more and more, that math has a bad reputation in today’s society.  It is not uncommon to hear a random person on the street, one of your friends, or even yourself speak about how much they hate math, how they aren’t any good at it, or how you need to be ‘super smart’ to do math.

In our society it would be almost unheard of for someone to speak the same of reading or writing. You don’t hear people proudly stating ‘I can’t read, I’m totally illiterate’.  In fact, hearing someone say that would most likely be a prompt for you and others to offer your help to them, to immediately explain to them how important it is to be able to read and write, and how anyone can do it, they just need some help, guidance and support.

So why then has mathematics gotten such a bad rep?

A lot of it stems from a pre-conceived notion in our society that mathematics is only the information taught in schools (fractions, algebra, trigonometry) and that they are ‘useless’ in the real world.  When will I ever use SOH-CAH-TOA in the ‘real world’?  Or that there are only small portions of math that are useful in the world around us (think about figuring out the tip or the tax).

Many people see mathematics as simply a collection of numbers, formulas and things to be memorized for the next test.

But imagine if we saw math in a different way?

image of the centre of a sunflower with seeds in a spiral pattern
What if we saw it as a golden spiral in a sunflower…

piano keys with sheet music
…or in the notes of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto…

hallway with ornate tiling patterns
…or in the buildings all around us?

What if we looked at math not just as a collection of numbers and formulas that could be easily input into our calculator/smartphone but instead we look at it more like a language, one that, if understood, could explain so much of the world around us.

It requires a change in perspective, but just think of how amazing the world could look to you if you took just a bit of time to see the mathematical world all around you!