I read this article today on Medium: Lessons from My Math Degree That Have Nothing to Do with Math
Besides I can relate to all the points that the author of the article wrote. I have some words for my own experiences. For me, Math is not computing number, plug and junk. It is a form of Art, it is Philosophy, it is abstract. A lot of people failed to teach it. I love Math, I used to be in Math Competitive team from K-12 school. Because of being on the team, I had learned Math in a different way, more thinking, problem solving, more abstractions and how to write a solid proof. I did not win any national either any big price though. Math is hard, even though I have a strong background in it. I still find myself swear a lot “wtf I am doing?”
Through Math, I learn lessons about myself and about life. Math has built my characteristic. I have learned to be persistent in the things I do, whenever I face a hard problem in life. I would take it with care and caution. When I was in my grade 12th, I got to compete in a State level Math competition, I got so freak out because I thought I was not good enough. I was not confident. I was not prepared. I was afraid to get low scores on the exam/the competition. The night before the exam, I talked to my professor to ask him to let me quit so I could save myself and the school that I presented for an embarrassment. He gave me a lecture about life. It is ok to walk away for a little bit, take some fresh air and come back to the problem. It is not ok to leave a problem unsolved. Math is like Life so Life is like Math. He told me that, no one would feel embarrassment except if I did not try my best. He did not let me quit. I ended up failing the exam/the competition with a very low score. But I did it, I overcame my fear and I learned from it. I would not be who I am today without all the time learning Math at a highly competitive level.
By learning Math, I learn how to communicate effectively through speaking and writing. For me, being ESL, communicating effectively with limited word choices is very crucial. How do I say what I want, how do I debate, how do I convince people with my arguments and my examples? Those things are like writing a proof and the steps to solve a Math problem. The simple, the solid and the clear my poof, the easier for people and the reader to understand. People don’t understand, it is not their fault, it is my fault not doing a good job to let them understand.
I have become more tolerance with not understanding things the first time, even the second time, the third time, the fourth time, the fifth time,… as many time as it needs for me to understand. Practice makes perfect. When I do not understand the concepts, I leave them there, do something productive and come back to it later.
Sometimes I wish I could go back in time to use the time I was doing Math to learn something else like English, another language, to learn how to code,… But now, no, I do not regret any of it. I have made lifelong friends through my math classes. We share a lot of other interests like poetry, traveling, …. I have growth with Math and I love Math. I hate and love the pain. It builds me who I am today.