Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Math’s Life Lessons

I wanted to lighten up today and move a bit away from history - and remind us of some Life Lessons from my favorite subject … Math.

Some might suggest my passion is history (talk to any of my former history teachers and you’ll soon learn the truth – back then, history was not a subject that interested me.)

Actually, it’s Numbers that talk to me … they help me see and explain the world around me.

Many who know me think I am weird for my apparent insatiable passion for Math.

Math is not just the quest to solve for the unknown (… as if that is not enough;) Math also helps describe how we should live our lives.

Bear with me for a few moments, while I either turn you to the Math Side, or confirm what many people already think of me.  (I proudly live up to my reputation as the Duke of Dork.)

Here are some important Math Life Lessons.

Math’s equal sign gives us a lesson on EQUALITY.

From grade school through research involving the most complicated mathematical expressions, there is blind faith in Math’s equal sign.

Definitively different looking items on either side of this symbol are indisputably the same.  Without second thought, we defend and protect the equal sign and proclaim equality of two distinctive things.

In life, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we looked at each other … whomever we are, from wherever we come, however each of us looks or whatever each of us believes … and unquestionably see ourselves as equal?

This simple Math concept can save the world.

While we are on the subject of the equal sign, Math also teaches us the GOLDEN RULE.

You know, he who has the most gold, rules … no, wait, that’s a lesson in compounding and the relationship of addition, multiplication and exponents; that’s not what I am referring to.

I am talking about the ethic of reciprocity - doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.

We learn about this in Algebra - we call it balancing the equation, when we isolate a variable or solve an equation.  If you do one thing to one side of the equation, you must do the same thing to the other side.

In life, the same is true.  Treat people equally and treat them just as you wish to be treated.

Math teaches us the importance of WORKING TOGETHER.

This is illustrated in a tricky combination of geometry, trigonometry and physical science; so, bear with me, again.

Assume you need to get something from one point to another; say, up a hill.

In Math, we call it force to move a mass up a slope.  Use all your might and you can eventually get the object to the top.

However, if you and a friend push the same object, each of you uses less of your own muscle power (force) because you are working together.

In fact, you two working together, using each of your individual maximum force, can move twice the mass.

In Math, as in life … working together, you can accomplish more.

Here’s another Math Life Lesson – PROBLEM SOLVING.

In all Math problems, from the simplest to the most complex, the solution is simply the systematic addition, subtraction, multiplication or division of only 2 numbers at time.

So, in Math, when faced with an extensive, complicated problem, you solve it by planning and breaking it down into small component parts; the process is called evaluating and simplifying.

In life, our so-called ‘big’ problems can be solved the same way - slowly and systematically - by looking for and addressing the simple component solutions. (It’s kind of like ‘baby steps.’)

There is LOVE in Math.

OK, for many, not necessarily love *for* Math; but, really, love is found in Math.

It is best seen in 1 + 1 = 2.

First, look at the numbers.

1 … a simple vertical line.  By itself, it’s limited in character, scope and scale.  1 is the most basic, simplest and loneliest number.

But, put it with another lonely 1 and you get the most diverse, complicated integer of them all - 2 - a symbol made up of a curve, slope and straight line.

OK, now, we have a little audience participation.  Do this in your mind’s eye.

Just as who we are reflects on others … take that 2 and imagine its left side is reflected up against a mirror.  Can you see it?

That’s right.  When you take a lonely one and put it together with another lonely one … you have love with a solid foundation.

Makes your heart skip a little beat doesn’t it?

Welcome to the Math Side.

© 2015 Hoʻokuleana LLC

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