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WHy is math so hard?

Guest Apr 28, 2014

Best Answer 

 #2
avatar+26329 
+8

Is it? 

Compare it with athletics; more specifically, with the high jump.  Is the high jump hard? If you are trying to break the Olympic record the answer is yes; even if you can do it, it’s hard! On the other hand, if the bar is 2cm off the ground it’s easy for any able-bodied person.  Somewhere in between it starts to get hard for everyone, though the point at which it does so differs for everyone.  We each have a “personal best” height.  Often by working hard at it we can improve our personal best, and there is a lot of satisfaction in doing so.

I think of mathematics in a similar way.  If you are trying to prove Fermat’s last theorem it is hard (it has now been proven, of course, by Andrew Wiles – and he spent years on it before succeeding!).  On the other hand, at the level of 2 + 2 = 4, most of us find that very easy.  Somewhere  in between everyone starts to struggle, no matter how clever they are.  We all have a “personal best”, different for each of us, where we find things hard (actually, because mathematics is much more diverse than the high jump, each of us probably has several different personal bests, depending on what piece of mathematics we are dealing with!).  As in the case of the high jump, we can often improve our personal best by putting in some effort and working at it.  There is enormous satisfaction in being able to understand something today, that you didn't understand yesterday, as a result of your own efforts.

Here’s my (admittedly oversimplified) summary equation

Hard + Effort = Easy

Alan  Apr 28, 2014
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 #1
avatar+78741 
+8

When I used to tutor, this is a question I always pondered, too, .......then I figured it out.......everyone has different abilities.

Foe instance, if you asked me to draw a picture, forget it!!! I have no talent in that direction.

Here's what I would tell you....practice!!.....most people aren't born "knowing" how to do math,  anymore than they're born knowing how to play a piano!!

Coming to the forum to ask questions isn't a bad idea, either. We might not have any Sir Isaac Newtons on here (but then again, I can't be sure), but we have a lot of people who are pretty knowledgeable!!

Hang in there....."math" isn't the "only" thing in life......

CPhill  Apr 28, 2014
 #2
avatar+26329 
+8
Best Answer

Is it? 

Compare it with athletics; more specifically, with the high jump.  Is the high jump hard? If you are trying to break the Olympic record the answer is yes; even if you can do it, it’s hard! On the other hand, if the bar is 2cm off the ground it’s easy for any able-bodied person.  Somewhere in between it starts to get hard for everyone, though the point at which it does so differs for everyone.  We each have a “personal best” height.  Often by working hard at it we can improve our personal best, and there is a lot of satisfaction in doing so.

I think of mathematics in a similar way.  If you are trying to prove Fermat’s last theorem it is hard (it has now been proven, of course, by Andrew Wiles – and he spent years on it before succeeding!).  On the other hand, at the level of 2 + 2 = 4, most of us find that very easy.  Somewhere  in between everyone starts to struggle, no matter how clever they are.  We all have a “personal best”, different for each of us, where we find things hard (actually, because mathematics is much more diverse than the high jump, each of us probably has several different personal bests, depending on what piece of mathematics we are dealing with!).  As in the case of the high jump, we can often improve our personal best by putting in some effort and working at it.  There is enormous satisfaction in being able to understand something today, that you didn't understand yesterday, as a result of your own efforts.

Here’s my (admittedly oversimplified) summary equation

Hard + Effort = Easy

Alan  Apr 28, 2014

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