Mathematics is a way of developing an understanding of the world around us. Why do you think we have a numbering system based on ten? Obviously having ten fingers dictated that we would have a system based on ten. The early Greeks made observations of the world around them, the concept of a right angle triangle having the sides of three, four and a hypotenuse of five totally intrigued them. It fascinated them that the square of the 3 and the square of the 4 equaled the square of the 5 which was the hypotenuse. The fact that they were three consecutive numbers had them totally amazed.
Why does the circle have 360°? It was also a result based on observation of the seasons. Early humans observed that the year seemed to have 360 days. Considering the simple processes they used, they were only a few days out.
The basic geometry used to build the pyramid’s of the ancient Egyptians just required them to be extremely precise, they used standards of measurement which allowed them the precision that we now all marvel, and would have difficulty to reproduce even with all of our modern technology!
Mathematics is also a way of developing our observation skills, our memory, and our ability to reason logically and consistently. I can’t prove to you that 3 and 2 equals 5, but by convention we use these numbers consistently, adhering to logical laws, manipulating equations in a consistent manner and getting results that can be demonstrated in the real world. I can hear you say, is this mathematics? Sadly yes! My sadness is that mathematics has not been explained, in a palatable form, and for many, missed opportunity of success in mathematics has been denied because the fundamentals of mathematics were never explained in a user-friendly manner.
Some of my students have told me of times at school, where they were told to sit at the back of the class, and not to ask any questions. In their adult life, circumstances brought them into my contact, and in some cases, within two hours; they learn more about mathematics, than they had in all their years at school.
One could argue they weren’t in a frame of mind, during their informative years at school, to process these concepts. The concepts I’m proposing is that mathematics is primarily to develop your observation skills, your ability to recall methods and techniques, which is basically developing your memory and analytical skills, which I would argue, is necessary for all humans to experience in their personal development.
Over to you now to your personal experiences and whether you believe that mathematics is totally different to how I am portraying it to be!!! Perhaps a lively debate will result…