# Math: A Myth??… (II)

Elementary Mathematics” – the math a common person needs to master – is not only a very finite collection of mathematical ideas, but also a collection of primordial & elemental concepts!

This fundamental, but mostly elementary math, even though of transcendental importance for mathematics itself and for a meaningful education, may be quite less than the myth says. This makes no damage to the complete body of mathematics :), or to the importance of the subject at school, college or the world, but should alert us against naive fantasies, like those we usually see in the movies… Otherwise, if we prefer to believe in the myth, we´ll be always trying to achieve the impossible:

• We are human-beings – Not computers: Precisely because we have the feeling we should be geniuses and should always be right, we don´t allow ourselves to make mistakes! This is the basis and the “screenplay” for the sad story “I-Hate-Math”, which starts right there, when we excessively punish arithmetic and algebra errors, obtaining exactly the opposite result than that we wanted to – and this is clear from the low mathematical achievements world wide -.

As soon as we understand – or get to know the scientific studies – that the human brain – not like a computer – is just not made to calculate fast and without errors, the “scene” dramatically changes!!… We get relaxed!!… And then, not only the probability of “error” decreases, but also we finally can get focussed on other aspects of the math problems, those which neither a pocket calculator nor a sophisticated computer can manage, but only our human brains!!…

Sure “calculating” – Arithmetic & Algebra – is an important part of math – it is part of its origins and a very practical one -. But far more important in math is: To conceive & develop methods of calculation.

A never ending series of arithmetic operations has never been a mathematical goal!

• We shouldn’t expect learning math by heart – It is just imposible: A similar thing occurs with the learning mostly by heart of many many many “rules”, as if these rules had no “meaning” of its own, and as if most of them were not just a natural consequence of another. Math is much easier once we have been clearly told about these facts. About the Rules of the Game!: The Axioms and definitions we start with!!… After that, we only need our inborn logic to play the game.

Other wise, we get an image of math as superfluous and complex. Yet senseless 😦

And even worse, this leave us no free time to treat and understand the truly mathematical ideas – the ideas coming from the observation of the world in a “mathematical way”: Looking for patterns & similarities, with the help of logic & abstraction.

These are the “keys” to decode “secrets” – And this has always been the goal of doing math!

Hence, we should be willing to abandon any unrealistic mental image about math & about learning math …

Only this way could we materialize what is possible: To be a society with mathematical culture. To be a 21st century society, free from any math-learning-trauma! A society that seeks for the solutions to its problems