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  • Lance Mannion
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Gonna disagree with you here, about several things. I will fully admit that dyscalculia is real, and that mathematical thinking is hard for some people, but that doesn't mean that it isn't natural. If you had been in the car with me the day my 2 year old daughter looked at her fingers, holding up two fingers on each hand, and excitedly told me that two and two are 4, you might have a different perspective about how natural it is to think in numbers.

Arithmetic is math. There is a lot of math underneath that stuff you were taught in elementary school, it's just usually not exposed other than a set of rules to be learned, though Common Core tries to change that. The other problem with elementary school math is that most elementary school teachers don't Ike math don't know much about it, and fear it.

You might find it interesting that Einstein himself didn't have enough math expertise for the General Theory of Relativity, and had to get help. The Special Theory of Relativity is much easier to understand, and the math is much simpler. Both show, though, that math is not just about itself; math is the language of science, at least the physical sciences.

For some of us, and I'll admit we might be a small population, math and writing aren't that much different. Especially writing a computer program and writing an essay have many similarities for me. They're all about organizing and presenting information in a clear and understandable way. My husband, who finds it much easier to do math and program than write, thinks I'm crazy, though, so I may just be weird. But I don't think I'm unnatural.

I'm no advocate for cutting humanities to promote more STEM, but I do have a pet peeve about how acceptable it is for people to dismiss math by saying "oh, I'm no good at math." Nobody would ever say the same about reading, and I think the easy acceptance of innumeracy feeds the next generation.

Robert V Walker-Smith

I have spent a good deal of my free time since retirement trying to learn some of the things about mathematics that I didn't during my schooling. One of the things I've learned is that arithmetic is mathematics in much the same way that Manhattan is New York City - many people who haven't been there think that that's all there is. Mathematics is not primarily about numbers and counting - it's about the science of patterns. Arithmetic is the study of patterns of numbers, geometry of shapes, and the 'further' you go the more abstract the subjects and concepts become. One of the difficulties is that most intellectual disciplines require a high degree of abstraction to master, but mathematics requires a high degree of abstraction to understand at all.

I was fascinated by science as a child, and would have pursued it in college. My frail ship lost its keel on Trigonometry Reef and was wrecked on Calculus Island, which is why I became a history major. I don't agree that understanding maths is unnecessary; it may be unnecessary for most people to be able to solve a quadratic equation, but I think that everyone should at least know what they are and why. C. P. Snow notwithstanding, we all benefit from knowing more about the world we live in - and part of that is maths.

Chas, PE SE

Don't be too downhearted. Remember, the only reason engineering is in STEM is because they needed a vowel. Otherwise, it would be all white coats, as usual -- no muddy boots.

The other thing is -- and I have heard this, more than once -- is that kids need to WORK HARD! in order to BUILD CHARACTER!! So math should be made HARD WORK!!! Doesn't matter if they learn anything, as long as they SUFFER! One of the people saying this was a math teacher who wouldn't let her students use calculators, because it made learning the concepts too easy. I tell kids that everything you learn in math makes it possible to do something faster and more accurately.

Danny Sichel


Turn around. Now you're facing backwards.

Turn around a second time. Now you're facing forwards again.

Makes sense?

Good! Now you know why a negative multiplied by another negative equals a positive!

Lance Mannion

Danny, I tried. I understood while I did it. I just can't hold onto it. I'm hopeless.

Chas, I like that phrase: "All white coats, no muddy boots."

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