I’ll be straight: mathematics scares the living daylights out of me!
And I have had this problem since as far as I can remember. In preschool, I was the last one to memorize the number tables. In primary school, there were many instances when the math teacher had to literally drag me from under my table to the blackboard to solve a sum. All through high school, I had nightmares about factorization, theorems and logs. The only thing that kept me afloat was drawing all those pretty angles and circles… only for the teacher to inform me later that I was not supposed to color them!
Mathematics, A Monster
But enough about me. Over my long lifetime, I have come across many such people and we share a special friendship, which the math geniuses just cannot relate to. Here, I have listed down all the things that make me and my non-mathematical brained (is that even a word?) friends run for the nearest exit!
1. Why do I need to study this?
Honestly, why??? Even the little 3 year old version of me knew for certain that I never had a shot at becoming an engineer or a mathematician. Then why was I put through 10+ years of hell, just so I could waste my time in learning something that I would never use. A class on how to look after my car or how to know if someone is lying would have been a much more practical option!
2. Word problems
As if algebra and arithmetic were not torturous enough, the sadistic writers of mathematics textbook try to make the problems more ‘relatable’ by presenting real life examples. For instance, a typical word problem goes like:
‘ Bilal got 4 boxes of chocolates for Valentine’s day. Each box contained 33 chocolates. His friends Sajjad and Wahab stole and ate 67 chocolates in total. What percentage of the original stock does Bilal have left?’
First of all, who was Bilal going to give 4 huge boxes of chocolates to, aur who bhi on Valentine’s day? Does he have a really hungry girlfriend or is he (gasp!) a two- timer? And his friends ate 67 chocolates? Do they have a diabetic death wish? Forget the percentage, these are the problems a normal person would be more interested in solving. So much for bridging the gap between theory and practice!
I could never understand why almost every second algebraic problem involved making some sort of assumptions. And in most cases, ‘x’ is the main culprit. Honestly, I find this elitist and politically incorrect. Why are the rest of the alphabets ignored? Why cant we find the value of ‘h’ or ‘m’? Also, isn’t making assumptions about things considered impolite? This is doing nothing to improve our etiquettes!
4. Weird symbols
(± β π ∑ ∞ µ : =) %
WHAT. IS. THIS. SORCERY?!
If you’re teaching kids something so conceptual, the least you can do is make the signs and symbols a bit interesting. I bet mathematics could have been much more fun if we had used emojis or emoticons instead of these ancient squiggles.
5. Memorizing theorems/formulae
Never in my life had I imagined that finding out the area of a ball would be so hard. And this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg (triangular, the area of which can be found by ½ base into hypotenuse). As you move to the higher classes, you are expected to remember all the theorems and formulae. There comes a point where all you can think about are the Xs and Ys and you forget the rest of the letters of the alphabet. I think even Pythagoras would have sworn off all this had he been faced with these confusing memorization.
6. “Prove that…”
According to the law, the responsibility of giving proof falls on the shoulders of the accusing party. So technically, the teachers and paper-setters should be the ones giving proof. Also, since we can assume anything, it should be possible to prove everything we want too. An example of this is given below:
7. Why can’t I use a calculator?
A question that has recurred in the minds of many students. Isn’t the whole point of inventing a calculator, to CALCULATE? Or is it necessary to put children through the many stages of low self-esteem, self-doubt and anxiety before letting them know if their answer is correct or not? My mind remains boggled at the logic of having calculators, but not using them.
So this is my list of things that I find weird about math. We can add many more points to this list, I am sure. We at Daily Punch are always ready to hear your views and feedback, so be sure to comment below about your Math woes!