TOK Reflection: Mathematics

Topics: Mathematics, Scientific method, Logic Pages: 4 (1226 words) Published: January 8, 2014
TOK Reflection: Mathematics

To what extent is math relevant to your life and the lives of others you know and how can it become an even more viable area of knowledge. “In mathematics I can report no deficience, except it be that men do not sufficiently understand the excellent use of the Pure Mathematics.”

Roger Bacon (1214-1294)
Mathematics: the abstract science of number, quantity, and space; a subject considered by many to be useless, a waste of time, and too difficult. “When am I ever going to use in real life?” or “What’s the point of learning all this?” are just some questions people ask when faced with a mathematical problem. So, what is the point of math? Paul Lockhart in his A Mathematician’s Lament stated, “How many people actually use any of this practical math they supposedly learn in school? ... So why do people think it is so important?” It isn’t important, at least from my understanding the “math” taught today isn’t important.

Lockhart says that the math taught in modern day schools is not the math that really is; it is not taught as the art that it is. “I’m sure most people use a calculator for everyday arithmetic. And why not? It’s certainly easier and more reliable. But my point is not just that the current system is so terribly bad, it’s that what it’s missing is so wonderfully good! Mathematics should be taught as art for art’s sake. These mundane “useful” aspects would follow naturally as a trivial by-product.” As a lover of math, I can completely relate to this. I was brought up in a household that valued the reason rather than the answer. It’s great if one has the answer to a question but what’s even better is how one got to that answer, how they came up with the answer and the reason as to why that answer is correct. That, for us, applies to math.

There was no such thing as a calculator in our house, we had to be able to figure things out on our own and not by calculator or memorization of the times tables. We had to...
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