_______________________________________________________________________________ Subject: Re: where's the math? so? From: firstname.lastname@example.org at internet Date: 4/20/95 6:12 PM
>> >>Presumably everyone on this list has loved mathematics from a fairly young age. >>How many owe that love to a sense that there were modern mathematicians out there, >>tackling tough modern problems? >> >>Ted Alper >>email@example.com > >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 -- Michelle Manes Education Development Center, Inc. firstname.lastname@example.org