Wisaarkhu is a reviewed magazine. Each year, we plan to have one to two volumes and each volume has one theme. Even though it is a psychology of abstract mathematics magazine, it is often important to go out of these disciplines and touch others to have a better understanding of each theme. Do not be surprised to see columns in history, language, neurobiology, philosophy, physics, economy... All these disciplines are closely related and complete each other. We are only attempting to share knowledge in a defragmented way.
Each column of this magazine passes through at least four sets of eyes – the purpose of this process is not to accept or reject the piece, but if the contributor is willing to go through this journey, we want to help to ensure the value and quality of each column. So, his/her message reaches the readers in a human way, and helps or touches positively. Each editor has a special place in the team, and all are very talented. They are using their level of expertise to ensure the value and quality of the finalized column. It is good to keep in mind that many of our contributors are neither writers, nor academics, and for some, this task of writing a column might be outside their comfort zone and very difficult – English might not even be their first language!
This magazine tries give each perspective a voice – keeping it as authentic as possible to attempt to get to a more complete and genuine picture of the given theme.
Of course, it is clear that no picture will ever be complete.
“That which inspires the essence of the art of what is known.”
The title of the magazine captures the vision of the Psychology of Abstract Maths project: to appreciate and make the most out of diversity.
In most languages, the word mathematics is a slight derivation of the Latin
‘Matematica’. In Dutch, the Latin was replaced with a purism, introduced by the Flemish mathematician Simon Stevin (1548-1620), namely ‘Wiskunde’ meaning “the knowledge of what is certain”. The origin of the word can be traced to an earlier form of the Dutch word ‘Wisconst’, meaning “the art of what is known”.
The Hindi word for abstract, ‘Saar’, captures a deeper meaning than in English, as it also refers to essence, summary and gist.
The Ancient Greek word ‘Psūkhē’ literally means “life’s breath, spirit and soul”. It is regarded as the origin for the English word ‘psyche’, whence ‘psychology’. But the word psyche is also derived from the Egyptian where ‘su’ is the she and ‘khe’ is the soul: hence the feminine nature of the Greek ‘psu-khe. Without the ‘p’, ‘Sakhu’ means “the understanding, the illuminator, enlightener, the eye and the soul of
being; that which inspires”.
The goal of this project is to rethink how we share mathematics in order to raise great human beings with empathy and the will to make a positive change in society. Bringing mathematics and psychology together could give a human side to mathematics, making it more accessible and warmer to people and help to resolve the anxiety often associated with the subject. This was the motivation behind sharing knowledge via regular interdisciplinary themed discussions and launching this magazine.
Mathematics is the subject which starts with us in preschool and often remain with us to the end of our studies. It is valued by most and parents often feel despair to see their child fail this subject. Mathematics helps people to solve problems by taking into account as many variables as necessary. This means that any individual student could be empowered and given the opportunity and the chance to solve world problems, like poverty and hunger.
Mathematics is also about communication and the sharing of ideas. This could bring people together to solve the most difficult problems of our era; an aspect of mathematics that is often forgotten. The paradox is that no matter how people may be convinced of the importance of mathematics, most finish their studies wishing never to use the subject ever again, disabling them from probably ever using mathematics in their future. The reality is that something is seriously wrong.
If it is true that mathematics can empower people with essential life skills, then why are we failing so dramatically to do so? How can we share this knowledge as widely and fairly as possible? If education is about helping our students to be the best they can be, how do we do that with mathematics? How do we make mathematics accessible, valid and visible for most? These are all the frustrations which brought this project to light. The project intends to understand this problem through as many lenses as possible, creating a space for collaboration between many levels of expertise, which was once upon a time unified and not fragmented: teachers, learners, lecturers of various disciplines, students, various departments of education, teaching and learning, language, social science, psychology and philosophy.
It is perhaps important to think about the legacy we leave behind as human beings and experts in our respective fields. Transmitting our knowledge as widely as possible is an essential part of the cycle of life and taking time to be empathetic and understand the difficulty and fear of our students is essential. Education should enable our students to improve their skills and to give back to their communities.The human mind is certainly the most complex mechanism and a lot of variables are at play. When reflecting on how we teach math, it seems we wish to remove, ignore, and forget emotion and humanity. But even famous mathematicians acknowledge that knowledge arises from experience.
Is it really wise to push emotions to our subconscious? What consequence will it have for our students? Globally people consider mental health and emotional intelligence to be important indicators of being successful. Perhaps making maths more human, more focussed on the life skills it equips us with, will lead to the development of more emotional intelligence in future generations.
Dr. Sophie Marques
Is mathematics taught for the sake of its beauty or for some purpose?
Should mathematics be concerned with humanity?
Does mathematics help with emotional and intellectual growth?