This is an edited repost from my personal blog, Faith’s Microbiome & Tech Blog. This being considered, I believe my writing skills have been improving, hopefully.
Recently, I read some articles which state that having mathematical confidence — where one is confident in their math skills and their ability to perform in math class- highers the chance of better math grades, and therefore, better math skills. Seemingly the vise-versa of the opinion, I also believe that exercising our math skills, regardless of how well-up we are in it, improves confidence on the whole.
First, I must clarify there are two common beliefs of math in this world (I unfortunately am unable to cite this, but I most certainly came across a poll of this sort asking for my opinion on Khan Academy):
- There are those who are good at math, and those who are not- and that cannot change.
- Math skills can improve; there is no such thing as math person.
I agree with the latter. After all, with persistent practice we can improve skills thanks to neuroplasticity; and, neuroplasticity does apply to cognitive skills.
With a complete understanding of mathematical concepts, procedures, theorems, etc., one may grasp math problems and find ways to solve them quite easily. With a focus on mastery, that persistent practice with familiar-topic and challenge-type problems would lead the individual to identifying procedures/methods and finding mathematical solutions to given problems quickly. Eventually, with mastery of mathematical skills and mathematical problems, as well as a handle on speed, confidence will most definitely grow.
As a STEAM student, I take pleasure in answering the question, “Why is math important?” with the famous quote by Galileo Galilei, “Mathematics is the language with which God has written the universe.” If investigated closely, there is a high possibility of mathematical application towards everything (See the Mathematical Universe Hypothesis proposed by Max Tegmark, which I have yet to explore deeper myself). Technically, if the universe and its components are made of math, we can then take the problem-solving skills we use in the academic environment (Math class!) and apply it to the math of the universe- well, everyday-life and wherever you please.
As I have thrown my thoughts out of my mind and onto this monitor screen, I now see this is a somewhat trifling opinion, in my opinion. The more you solve problems, the more confident you will become in facing problems; and, this can be seen in mathematics, which is often believed to be among some of the most complicated studies (Do a web search on the most complicated subjects [in STEM if you’d like to be specific] — it’s rather interesting!). If you can fully understand mathematics and solve math-problems, you would think you can solve anything- I’d agree with you!
Ultimately, once any concept/topic is explained well enough to you, it becomes simple; then with practice, you can secure your confidence in it. Or in Sherlock Holmes’ words, “Every problem becomes very childish when once it is explained to you.”
There are a few links at the bottom linking to where I got some of my information. Au revoir!
Heinemann Blog: Encouraging Mathematical Confidence
Scientific American: Is the Universe Made of Math? [Excerpt]
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