Humanizing Mathematics in a Challenging World

Article excerpt

Byline: EDUARDO P. GARROVILLAS Jose Rizal University

MATHEMATICS is the easiest subject to learn and master; contrary to popular notion that it is the most difficult and complicated. In my view, the teachers are the ones making it difficult; because most of them have not learned to tame and humanize the numbers. This paper then is about humanizing mathematics. Humanizing our teaching approach goes for other subject disciplines as well, whether its economics or engineering, physics or physical education, etc. We should teach life when we teach our subject. And when we teach life, we should talk about people, planets, and productivity. This will put the global context into our teaching.

Dan Brown, the controversial author of the Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, did not only write about the unification of science and religion, matter and antimatter. In a way, he also talked highly of mathematics as the purest language of science. Pythagoras, the mathematician who gave us the solution for the hypotenuse of a right triangle, regarded it as a religion, where zero is nothingness or emptiness from where God created everything, one is god Zeus, who pertains to equality and justice, three is the symbol of stability, and so on and so forth. At the entrance of the palace where he was adviser to the king, he wrote the caveat. "Let no one enter who is ignorant in mathematics." During his time, a murder was committed in the Aegean sea because of the square root of 2, which happens to be an irrational number. Then, the belief is that rational numbers are sacrosanct; all numbers were thought to be rational; irrational numbers simply did not exist.

Mathematics is the language of scholarship. It is the queen of all sciences, whether soft science or hard science. The queen is polygamous; it is married to almost all the sciences. Imagine economics without mathematics, you will have difficulty visualizing the law of supply and demand, or the break-even point of production and consumption. Imagine physics without mathematics, you will have difficulty explaining Einsteins theory of relativity. It is concise, precise, exact and has the ability to dissolve ambiguities. It is pure and it purifies. It is said that if you can interpret your findings in numbers, then you know what youre talking about. And the converse is true. There are no gray areas in mathematics. Your answer is either right or wrong. Lifes dualities are captured in mathematics. Good and evil. Night and day. Yin and Yang. Angels and demons. Truth and lies. Youre either within the Venn diagram or outside of it.

Boolean algebra, the mathematics of zero and one, served as the mother board of the information communication technology that dominates todays challenging world. The marriage of Boolean algebra and physics has resulted in the present-day digital age. …