Why I love Math
Over the years Math has had different meanings to me. At first, math is what felt right to me. I loved adding numbers quickly, I loved the feeling of getting right answers on quizzes and tests, but the true value of math didn’t really occur to me until long I after I studied math and research methodology.
My discovery of math led me to an important question: how do I know if I am right? Among all of my thoughts and guesses about the world around me, how do I know if I am getting close to being accurate?
In my studies in social science research I discovered important concepts of having accurate and agreed upon language and isolating variables to arrive at possible solutions. The reality that I quickly learned in social science is that the number of variables seem so vast that it is very hard to say anything definitive.
These concerns in research fit perfectly when I rediscovered elementary mathematics in my math teacher education program. I was able to connect with the roots of math at a very basic and historical level.
In Euclid’s Elements, the earliest known math textbook, it was an awakening to see how the early greeks built their knowledge of math by investigating the most basic elements that make up life starting with space and measurement.
Euclid started with the most basic objects in geometry such as a point, a line, a line segment, a ray, an angle. From these basic definitions, mathematics was built with a series of further definitions, postulates, common notions, and propositions.
Here are the first common notions in book one.
Common notion 1.
Things which equal the same thing also equal one another.
Common notion 2.
If equals are added to equals, then the wholes are equal.
Common notion 3.
If equals are subtracted from equals, then the remainders are equal.
Common notion 4.
Things which coincide with one another equal one another.
Common notion 5.
The whole is greater than the part.
The post starts with a wonderful statement of the first common notion used by Lincoln to explain his reasoning for the country’s most important human rights legislation.
Imagine if we could use that same clear reasoning in our lives.