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Topic: Re[2]: where's the math? so?
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Michelle Manes

Posts: 64
Registered: 12/3/04
Re[2]: where's the math? so?
Posted: Apr 21, 1995 11:18 AM
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Subject: Re: where's the math? so?
From: at internet
Date: 4/20/95 6:12 PM

>>Presumably everyone on this list has loved mathematics from a fairly young

>>How many owe that love to a sense that there were modern mathematicians out
>>tackling tough modern problems?
>>Ted Alper

>Nope, I didn't. I thought math = calculations (including algebraic) and
>overly formalized proofs of uninteresting statements = uncreative and
>dreary. Except for having run into the proof that the reals were
>uncountable in George Gamow's 123 Infinity back in junior high...

Seconded. I was always "good at math," but I hated it. My math classes
were the most boring hours of my day. In high school, I skipped a year
of math to be a TA for chemistry because I just couldn't stand to be
bored like that anymore. I took calculus my senior year (skipping precalc),
did fantastically well, and hated every minute of it.

Then I got to college. I retook calculus because I had slept through
the AP exam so I didn't have any credit for it. I aced the class (one
would hope so on the second time through), but more importantly, I met
my first mathematician. My calculus prof. was an amazing man, truly
excited about mathematics. When I went to office hours, he would give me
harder problems to work on; he hadn't always worked them out first, so
I got to see what it was like when a mathematician worked on mathematics.
He would talk a little about his research, which I didn't understand at
all. But I understood the excitement and intellectual challenge of it.
He convinced me to keep taking math classes, even though I didn't need
anything past calculus for my intended chemistry major.

Then I met this guy (now my husband) who was majoring in math. He talked
about weird things. Set theory and logic and such. (Old topics, but
interesting and mind-blowing and engaging, and not part of the high school
curriculum for some reason I can't understand.) His parents are both
math professors, and he knew little bits about more advanced stuff. It wasn't
that I could understand and dig into the work. It was the idea that there
were new things being discovered. That's what had drawn me to science,
the thought that I could find out something that no one ever knew before.
But in math it was even better, because you could *prove* that you were
right, not just test it out a bunch of times until you were pretty sure.
I became a math major, then a math teacher, then a mathematics curriculum
developer. I hope someday to be a mathematician, and to figure out
something that none of you know yet. :)

Michelle Manes
Education Development Center, Inc.

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