Hello, my name is Sidney (you can call me Sid for short), and I am a nerd.

I use mathematics of various types every day. This ranges from simple counting to complex physics problems. Many people think I’m insane because I kind of enjoy it. Many people have what I’ve heard called “math anxiety,” which I believe is a learned mental state brought on during early schooling by improper teaching. The thing with learning math of any kind is, apart from methods of teaching it, a person’s personality and ways of understanding information can make or break them. As far as mental makeup, I’ve heard many people claim they’re “just not wired for it.” These are usually the same people who are hopeless in the area of learning languages. But, anyone is capable of learning any kind of math and being good at it, just as anyone is capable of learning any other language and being good at it. They just have to want to; and, ideally, they should be exposed to such things as other languages and mathematics fairly early in life. This way, as their brains change, they can continue to exercise this ability.

But wait. Let me back up a little, and do a little explaining. First of all, math, very generally, is just a language with myriad “dialects,” specified to describe just about everything in the physical universe (save the things we can still only hypothesize about). Math can even be used to describe spoken languages, for these have patterns and involve physical processes to produce them. When a child is shown that math is just a language to describe everything they see, touch, smell, hear, taste, and perceive, it becomes less scary and can, if properly fostered, lead to not only a deeper understanding of their environments, but also a sort of appreciation (bordering on what we English-speakers might call love) for the beauty math’s ultimate simplicity has built. Of course, this is an ideal situation; and I’m sure we all know that ideal situations are rare.

So, to answer the question, if I were to wake up one day and find that I was fluent in any language, the language I choose is mathematics. This would include the dialects with which we (we humans) are not yet familiar. I would then take it upon myself to travel the world, and I would do my best to reach every person I could and teach them this most amazing language. I would reach out to physicists, mathemeticians, biologists, engineers of all sorts, scientists of all sorts, teachers, and housewives alike. I would use my fluency to show them the vast possibilities in life, the truth of the universe, the secret of immortality! Furthermore, I choose math because, of all the human languages I’ve studied, I’ve yet to find one with adequate vocabulary to describe the depth and vastness of what I perceive in this world all the time. German pings on it a bit, often because when a German-speaker says something, the receiver is meant to imply greater depth and meaning than the superficial words. But, in math, there is such vocabulary. With math, one can create an absolutely beautiful universe. And, it’s universal. Yes, I’m quoting Lindsay Lohan’s character in *Mean Girls*, but it rings true: “[Math’s] the same in every language.” One can unlock all the secrets of the universe with math.

How’s that for idealism?

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At school I did it all, Trigonometry, Algebra, Geometry etc. etc. and even used logarithms and antilogarithms (probably now non-existent due to the calculation machines, excel etc. etc.). and you know what, I have forgotten most of it. An algebraic equation would be a mystery to me today probably. A shame really. I get what you mean, although I never made it to quantum mathematics. You have a good point there, if you have a command of maths you can do it.

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I want to love math. I do. I was never lucky enough to have teachers who either gve a rats ass or were to busy hating math themselves to make it exciting. I am going to crack my algebra book and start over. Why not. Right?

It is never too late to like/learn math! 🙂

You are correct. Looking back I can pinpoint the test that screwed me up mathematically forever. It was my High School placement exam. I had only 7 correct answers out of 50. 7. I was not aware until I got my class schedule for the fall. Honors English, Honors Science, and remedial math. It was called 101. Yawp. I tried to fight it. I begged to take the test over. My counselor refused. I was supposed to be in AP Algebra. Instead? I got into Pre-Algebra. Something I had passed with an A in 8th grade. That or 101. You choose. I chose to re-take Pre-Algebra. Dejected I filed into the room. I never got out of Pre-Algebra. I would eventually drop out of high school. I would eventually attempt college. Math was the challenge, but I managed.

I am looking now, at finishing my degree. I would like to pursue the sciences, but know that Math will serve to challenge me to no end. But it is doable.

It is doable. The key for you, I think, is to find a way to make it interesting. My college algebra professor a few years ago was really responsible for renewing my enthusiasm. She taught me number theory, mathematical history, and showed me some of the amazing ways that math fits into everything we see and do and feel. You can do it!

Thanks. I’d like to get the degree and then become a teacher. Kids need an advocate, I think, in the system. Between engaging them and exciting them with learning the other side is providing that guidance for those that fall through the cracks… fingers crossed. First, I must find a job.

Thanks.

Best of luck on the job, friend. I think teaching is quite a noble endeavor. I agree, in America anyway, children need that sort of advocate within the system.