M is for maths

Posted as part of the A-Z challenge.

I work with words. So according to some I should be useless at maths. You can’t possibly be good at both, it’s one or the other.

To still others, maths doesn’t matter anyway. Who needs any of that algebra nonsense? and after all, it’s cool to be useless at maths – I see people declaring it proudly.

To me maths is important, and it is fun, and it is interesting. All very good reasons to enjoy it. The pleasure of taking a problem and solving it. The way that it doesn’t matter which way you approach the problem  – simple way or hard way, as long as you follow the rules properly the answer is the same.

Our world depends on maths. From the equipment we use, to the medicines we take, to the way businesses are run, to the way we check the weather forecast – everything is based on maths. And to be able to think about it sensibly is very important.

As to the algebra, we use it all the time, without knowing it. It’s just describing the rules of numbers, so that an unknown quantity can be worked out. Whether you’re aware of it or not, you use it every time you work out what change you’re owed, or how many you can afford to buy with the money you have on you. Becoming aware of it just means that you can use it as a more powerful too.

And isn’t that a metaphor for just about everything? So much goes on around us, without us being aware. Becoming aware, and being able to analyse it, enables us to take control and become the one doing things, rather than the one being done to.

I tell the kids I tutor that maths is like a magic trick – it can seem completely impossible if you don’t know how it’s done, but once you learn the trick it’s ridiculously easy.



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