The Plastic Brain

…more on the utility of mathematics.

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saratron of the Lazy Sunday tumblelog was not too impressed with my foray into mathematics blogging:

WTF is this guy talking about? Many maths teachers insist on stressing its utility, even when it has none. 

EXCUSE ME? I must have been living under a rock for the past 23 years cause last I heard we use math EVERYDAY and oh yeah it holds the universe together, y’know little stuff like that. 

I feel I should therefore expand on my thesis:

Of course mathematics is useful. Mathematics has both scientific and engineering applications, and as such, can help us not only understand the universe, but help us built machines to explore it.

But that’s not all there is to it. And some might argue that that interpretation leaves out the best parts. The parts that are pursued for the love of numbers, their beauty and the unexpected revelations that emerge from studying them.

It is true that these sometimes turn out later to be useful. But the point is utility should not be the driving force.


Author: Rogan Tinsley

Biology, science and maths teacher with a PhD in Neuroscience and passion for education.

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