On Mathematics


By Sola Adeyegbe

Mathematics is from the Greek word máthēma, (knowledge, study, learning) and it  includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), structure (algebra), space (geometry), and change (mathematical analysis). It has no generally accepted definition. (Wikipedia).

I have been terrified by this subject right from primary school!  Initially I was okay with it especially as it involved just adding, subtracting and dividing figures.  Then came the rigorous requirements of my teachers that we must learn the multiplication table by heart! We were made to sing the mathematical table at the back of our exercise books! If you don’t get it right,  the punishment imposed will make you repent and reject the devil and his works forever and ever! 

As if that was not enough, the most terrifying book on the planet was added to the mix. The book was by Larcombes! That book! The book would start with two  or three simple and understandable examples. Then the book will ask you to solve much more complex equations totally unrelated to the examples. Then the biggest temptation: the answers are right there at the back of the book. The teachers never failed to give us homework which must be submitted the day after.  I would not eat my lunch at home till I had finished the homework. Sweating and frustrated I sometimes gave in to the temptation of looking up the answers and working to the answers. Of course the teachers will discover  this and then the cane was used generously for poor performance.

But I’ve been advised that “the purpose of studying Mathematics is to learn to apply the mind.”  And of  course Mathematics is essential in many fields, including natural science, engineering, medicine, finance, and the social sciences. A lot of the advancements in various fields today have been aided by Mathematics. Our lives have been enriched today through the application of Mathematical principles. 

Maybe what was missing in my own experiencing were expert and patient Mathematics teachers. Today I know that Mathematics is most logical and can be easily understood given that one has good and patient teachers or instructors. I have heard some friends say that they did experience such teachers who made Mathematics easy for them such that they take it as their best subject.

I therefore thank all the great and noble mathematicians and the great teachers of Mathematics for doing us a lot of good.

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