Is Mathematics Actually for Everybody?

Isabella weaves a brilliant persuasive argument that Mathematics is not only applied by Scientists, Doctors, engineers and etc however it is applied in all facets of life for example: From counting likes in social media to social media algorithm, its applied by artists from mixing paint to sketching a painting. Maths is with us from the cradle  to the grave. The poem captured the application of maths through our lives vividly.

Illustration by Tristan Barnard

Is Mathematics actually for everyone? The average person would confidently answer “no,” purely based on the assumption that “Maths is only for doctors, engineers, and scientists.” However, that could not be further from the truth. Most, if not all, people use maths and skills developed from maths in everyday, simple activities.

By taking a deeper look at everything humans do, use, and create, it becomes evident that maths makes the world go round. From simply being able to tell the time, to working out a monthly budget, to being able to read a map. Maths is the common denominator in all these situations. Hence Math is an unavoidable characteristic of almost all activities of the basic human being, despite, most people “hating” mathematics.

By looking at something most of humanity uses daily, it is apparent that humans are unaware of the fact that mathematics is everywhere. So, by diving into the world of social media it can be seen just how much most people should actually love mathematics. Whether you use Facebook, Instagram, or Whatsapp; a wide range of mathematics is behind the app. First, there are basic maths concepts, such as counting likes and views or time stamping posts, comments, and texts. However, there is another world of mathematics behind creating and upkeeping a social media app. Think about the algorithm that simply keeps your Instagram feed suited to you or how all the adverts spread amongst these apps are specifically something you recently searched for. This is the magical world of mathematics.

Illustration by Liani Malherbe

Furthermore, when looking at a circumstance that is not obviously involving maths, it is easy to forget that the underlying principles are derived from the concept of mathematics. Something as simple as painting a picture involves quite a lot of math, even though at first sight it is not evident. By examining the process of painting, usually it starts with drawing an accurate grid, in other words dividing the canvas in equal and accurate parts so that there is a guideline when beginning to draw. Another step-in painting is mixing colours. This process uses fractions in a way that is not obvious. Let’s take light pink as an example; when mixing light pink, we subconsciously use fractions by adding four parts of white paint, one part of red paint and further adding red or white until the desired colour is achieved. This is something most people will do without even thinking twice. Thus, proving that mathematics is engraved in almost everyone’s head.

So now that it is seen that maths is basically a universally used tool, let’s indulge in some of the life skills and qualities mathematics gives us as humans. The most obvious skill maths gives you, is problem-solving. Maths is all about thinking outside, inside, and how to be the box. It creates a way of looking at situations with ten different lenses on and yet there is still another logical way of viewing the problem. In addition to this very obvious skill, there are other skills and qualities hiding in the shadows. A few of these traits are critical thinking, time management, precise and accurate working as well as logical reasoning. All these traits are used subconsciously throughout life and hence add value to the world.

Ultimately, whether you love or hate mathematics, it is undeniably an important instrument in everyday lives. From the maths behind basic activities everybody does to the maths behind devices everybody uses; it is impossible to say mathematics is not for everybody. So, the challenge for you is to learn to love maths, even if you will not admit it.

Isabella Spies

BSc Mathematical Sciences (2nd Year) Student at Stellenbosch University

References

Why Understanding Mathematics is Important?

Why Understanding Mathematics is Important?

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