Why we should #BreakMathStereotyping

When I chose MATH 10 as an elective course, all I thought this course would just bore me. However, things did not turn out to what I had expected.

MATH 10 has given me a lot of realizations regarding mathematics and life in general. Many students are afraid of having interactions with math for unfortunately, society has already deemed this field as “pahirap sa mga mag-aaral” and “walang ambag sa lipunan”. In reality, we must consider #BreakStereotypes.

Here, I list down five, must-know reasons why we should #BreakMathStereotyping:

1

IT IS NOT JUST ABOUT NUMBERS, FORMULAS AND COMPUTATIONS.

Common notion of mathematics is similar to what is seen in the picture. Many are overwhelmed upon encountering the numbers and formulas presented. Moreover, students hate entering and joining their respective mathematics classes since they have this fear of failing exams, quizzes and recitations for they do not understand the topic at all. When all of these scenarios are realities, what is also a reality hidden behind this fears is that we are only facing one aspect of mathematics. We must break this erroneous conventional ideas because as long as it linger among members of society, it will be continued to passed on along future generations. As a consequence, many would lose interest in this field, or no one would even dare to challenge and engage themselves in mathematics.

In this period of time, what we need is to instill among those with misconceptions that mathematics can be more than just numbers and formulas — rather, mathematics can occur in much more diverse forms, even evaluating fake news can be a form of mathematics.

2

IT IS NOT COMPLEX AS IT SEEMS TO BE

Grade-schoolers, at their very early age, many of them are already not fond of this subject. Maybe because they think that it is so complex and takes a lot of effort to understand the lessons compared to their other subjects which sometimes only require reading and memorizations. The same goes with high-schoolers and even some college students! Consider learning anatomy as an analogy. Anatomy includes learning every single part, details, both macroscopic and microscopic of organs and organ systems in the body. One way of making anatomy a subject to be learned a lot easier is through having mnemonics and integrating each and every details in order to generate a better understanding of that certain anatomical structure. Synonymously, mathematics also contains a lot of aspects and elements, not just number, formulas, and equations, as mentioned, that needs to be integrated in order to have a better grasp of its central knowledge.

These aspects and elements should not be viewed independently rather, as a unit because in doing so, mathematics will not be as complex as it seems.

3

DEFINITELY, IT IS NOT JUST FOR INTELLIGENTS

There is also this connotation wherein mathematics is a subject only for the intelligent individuals. In fact, it is for all. Such concept must be probably taken from equating mathematics as superior subject and when you can solve mathematical problems, you are already considered intelligent. But this does not mean that it is only restricted to these individuals. Mathematics, as a field is used by many of us and sometimes we are not aware at all. Reasoning, logic, making justifications, observing patterns and even as simple as counting is considered mathematics. Most of the times, it is either we do not recognize or we are denying that we are actually already using the concepts of math. Hence, mathematics is not restricted only for the intelligent individuals — but it is a field that is used by everyone in any activities that they do every day.

Sometimes, we do not need to always conform to standards and expectations set by the society. Sometimes, all we need is to be aware that mathematics can be of any forms, and even doing the simplest one means that this field is indeed not only for the intelligent ones.

4

IT IS NOT ABSTRACT

When you try searching the word mathematics in Google, it is defined as “the abstract science of number, quantity, and space”. The word “abstract” may imply erroneous conclusions since mathematics is not entirely abstract. Though it contains a lot of theoretical concepts — all of these can be used for the development and improvement of various studies and specialized fields. In fact, such application of mathematical concepts and methods is termed as “applied mathematics” where it is integrated with different specialized knowledge. Examples are physics — where it uses the language of mathematics to lay down its concepts; engineering — a classic example, where they use most of mathematical concepts and formulas to design their concepts, test equipment and create simulations; biology — mathematics is really essential in many fields of biology for it is commonly used in many biological studies to analyze data and project significant conclusions; and the list of more specialized knowledge goes down.

Denoting mathematics as a field that is totally abstract can be incorrect. For as seen that is combined with many specialized knowledge that leads to generating advancements that are beneficial to humans.

5

IT HAS SIGNIFICANT RELEVANCE TO THE COMMUNITY

Through emergence of mathematics, complex, real-life situations are being solved. This is because mathematics enables reasoning, creativity, and critical-thinking, hence is advantageous in problem solving. Involving math in the global context helps us to modernize even more the technologies and sciences that we already have, where all of these have a common goal of improving lifestyle of human and conserve the environment as well. Moreover, breakthroughs in many fields like medicine, ICT, business, physical sciences and even social sciences are being made because of mathematics. By aiming continuously to achieve a better technology and much more comfortable life, mathematics will also be always just around the corner.

And as long as we keep on identifying problems, patterns and irregularities in the modern world, mathematics, eventually will be one of the many keys in giving modern solutions to these dilemmas.

The next time we hear someone saying mathematics is irrelevant, or is describing it in conventional way, may we help them realize that it is actually not, through the five reasons I had presented on why we should #BreakMathStereotyping.