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What are Maths for? Answers to the big question


"I don't like math", "I don't understand it", "what is it for?" It is the eternal question of dozens, hundreds, thousands of students of all generations desperate to have to solve mathematical problems, face an equation or learn the square roots.

But, what need do we have to know how to make an integral?what are we going to use it for? Well, if you don't know what to say to your children when they ask you the million dollar question, turn to any of the 5 great reasons that Jeremy Kun, a passionate math teacher, gives. And it is that, although it is hard to believe it, mathematics provides great values ​​and learning.

Photo: Jeremy Kun

Jeremy Kun is a Ph.D. professor of mathematics from the University of Illinois at Chicago, interested above all in computational complexity, network science, and a thousand other mathematical concepts that we laymen do not think of.

But what we can understand are the 5 great reasons he provides about the importance of mathematics. They are the reasons that answer why children have to study what is a sine and a cosine, why they have to study algebra or the Pythagorean theorem:

1. Mathematics helps admit you are wrong: mathematics is an exact science, therefore any problem must be able to be solved and, above all, tested. There is always a way to check if the result is correct or not, and if it is not, the child will have to start from the beginning to do it in another way. Mathematics, therefore, helps children to advance, to find solutions.

2. Mathematics helps to choose the correct words: the teachers explain to the children theorems or definitions that they have to learn by heart, and they have to do it precisely and exactly. It is not the same to say that "the order of the factors does not alter the product", that "the order of the addend will produce the factor". It is necessary to learn to name each term clearly.

3. Mathematics helps to think: to go several steps ahead, to find out what it will be in the next step. For example, in a two-digit multiplication, a single error will have negative consequences on the entire operation. It's like playing chess, one wrong move can make you lose the game.

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4. Mathematics teaches children to do things their way: There are mathematical theorems, rules and axioms that were considered correct but later disproved. This teaches children not to take things for granted, even opinions that come from reliable sources. You always have to question things, it is what is known as "reasonable skepticism".

5. Mathematics teaches not to give up: there are mathematical problems that not even the most competent brains are capable of solving, but one fine day, someone succeeds. He does so because he used all his perseverance, effort and great willpower. But most of all, he never gave up.

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