Saturday, 18 October 2008

Does Math make you clever?

Why do we need to study math?

Is this question a familiar one?

We know that we need math to do some calculations for our daily necessity. But have we to go to the extent of learning logarithm, calculus, and the more complex mathematical techniques?

Math learning also involves some form of drilling to pump in the key steps and concepts. It is also a form of structured and systematic approach to solving problems.

So does this so-called systematic approach tie us to a rigid way of doing thing?
Will math, therefore, make us a more flexible or rigid, straight-only person?

Compare this math learning to literature learning, which has more room for personal expression?
My guess, is that you will say "literature".

Yes, learning subjects, like the literature and languages , do give us the freedom of expression through writing what comes to the mind, filling in beautiful words for descriptions and the like.

Math, on the other hand, forces us to think only in a structure manner. Any deviation from the "laws" will be deemed inappropriate.

Thus, learning math makes us less clever.


Now let's look at learning math in another angle.

Assume you are the civil engineer having to plan the site layout for constructing a building. You are given a boundary with the area within filled with hard rocks beneath.

Another civil engineer is asked to build a similar building but now in a prairie, without any boundary constraint and the soil is marvellous.

Who has a better time?
Who need to be more experience or knowledgeable?
Who need to be better?

You have to be better.

Link this to learning math, where you are given "boundaries" to operate in. The structured approach ties you within the laws, but still requires you to come out with the answers.
Learning subjects, like the English, is equivalent to the other engineer. He has his challenges but in another form (maybe to optimise budget, appearance, etc).

So, does learning math makes you clever?
Maybe. But it will definitely not make you less clever.
Having to operate and think with more constraints requires building, in fact, more flexibilities, for you to overcome any obstacles.

This is the power of learning math, and the very reason why we need to have math in our education since young.

Interesting ironical concept, right?
(Constraints create more flexibilities).


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