Tuesday, 22 December 2009 10:30 -
Even though Mathematics undoubtedly has universal applications to life and is an essential tool in science, technology, economics, business, commerce and of course in computer design and functioning there is a general tendency for people to shy away from it for various reasons-some feel it is too difficult while others do not see its practical connection to everyday life.
Consequently, we find just a small number of people who pursue this fascinating subject and the end result is that there is always only a small core of brilliant or good mathematicians which helps to reinforce the perception that this area of study is only reserved for an elitist few.
Mathematician T. Rogers in one of his lectures notes: “The percentage of the world’s population, or even of the world’s university-educated population, who could accurately state a single mathematical theorem proved in the last fifty years is small, and smaller still if Fermat’s last theorem is excluded. If you ask a mathematician to explain what he or she works on, you will usually be met with a sheepish grin and told that it is not possible to do so in a short time. If you ask whether this mysteriously complicated work has practical applications (and we all get asked this from time to time), then there are various typical responses, none of them immediately impressive.”
But maybe this perception is bolstered by the manner in which mathematics is taught and that is, it is done in too much of an abstraction and perhaps if our teachers could help students to see how these “abstract concepts” are related or could be applied to real and practical situations then probably this perception could be dispelled or reduced. In short if could successfully convince the young minds of the importance of mathematics to life.
Students of the natural sciences quickly realise the importance of mathematics because the areas of...