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# Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Math Class

Posted: 05/29/2012 4:11 pm

It is a time of caps, gowns, and tassel turning as children, youth, and adults graduate from everything from preschools to institutions of higher education. Graduation is a time of reflection and hopeful envisioning. The conferring of a degree acknowledges one's learning in classes from English to theater to math. Stepping off the graduation stage signifies the transition beyond the classroom. Those topics and ideas must now be applied -- to life itself.

Courses, regardless of topic, can teach us about life. Let's take my field of mathematics as an example, because it is the context I know best. Can everyone learn about life from a math class? Of course: It enables us balance our checkbooks. But how can math teach us about living life itself?

Here is my list of the top 10 things that can be learned from the mathematical classroom -- whether you like the topic or not!

1. Do your homework! If you plan on being ready only when it counts, then when it counts, you won't be ready.
2. Circle your answers! When you reach the summit of a mountain in life, take time to enjoy the view. Remember, though, to circle every answer, even when the problem is easy. Take time to celebrate even life's small successes!
3. Sometimes you cannot know how to do something before you begin! As I say to students in my classes, take the Nike approach and "Just Do It!" You'll literally figure it out later.
4. There is more than one way to get an answer. The harder the problem, the more likely there is more than one way to solve it, whether the problem be in math or in life.
5. Balance your equations. To do this, you first must write down an equation. Life is the ultimate word problem. It makes solving for the collision time of two trains traveling in two opposite directions look easy! What is your equation? What will you put into athletics, friends, service, and studies? Remember, when you change one part of that equation, other parts must adjust.
6. Confused? Try a simpler problem. And remember, you may want to come back to a question later. This is a common problem-solving technique. In life, it can enable you to focus on what's challenging and consider only the essential.
7. Staring at a question usually doesn't lead to enlightenment. Ask for help! Lost on the road of life? Stop for directions, at least so you can reach another stopping point. As I say to students, knowing that you don't know is important and quite useful to you and others.
8. Lots of problems don't have one answer. Life is rarely just right or wrong. Oftentimes, you will choose from many good options and, in the end, open one door knowing that you may inevitably close another.
9. Always be sure your pencil's eraser works! You will make mistakes. This point is well summarized by Albert Einstein when he said, "A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new."
10. Math may be everywhere, but it isn't everything. Keep in mind that wherever your main interests lie, there is more to life -- for others and for you. So keep looking, and keep exploring!

Classes can open the doors of insight on the world and on yourself. Children learn to read, giving them intellectual passports to lands of fiction and nonfiction. In other courses, students learn the complexities of interdependent economic systems or techniques in sculpting wood or metal. Each classroom can offer insights on life, and life itself can be a classroom where we learn about the world and ourselves. There is always more to be learned and more frontiers to apply what you already know.

This post was adapted from a commencement address I gave at Davidson Day School on Friday, May 25, 2012.

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HUFFPOST SUPER USER
methodman
09:33 PM on 05/29/2012
Another angle is that people's hands may be uneven as mine are. So with certain rulers to move it along paper. I had to carry scotch tape and tape it to the desk. I had one teacher ball me out that I was wrecking the desk. The static or what ever you want to call it in my hands was strange so I couldn't lift the ruler and hold it steady and make marks. Also there is a lot of knowledge passed by learning how to vary circle arts like a pie chart that connects to larger pie charts with indentations that collect and pair important concepts. The pairing is very important and while it is taught in computer programming. Math teachers ignore this and just try to get students to copy and somehow by copying you grasp stuff. You don't. I had to learn what word's paired with each other. Now I progress through many kinds of unrelated math. That is what society demands is versitle flexible people. But I am not liked by conservatives and discriminated by the religious. So as a disabled person I have myself to answer to.
HUFFPOST SUPER USER
methodman
09:24 PM on 05/29/2012
I think you are tracking at a beginning. I am using a book "Oh Pascal "2nd edition( very important) because the 3rd edition eliminated a list of about 55 progressive words that I found useful.

Also inside the covers are many of the important concepts from Reserved words, types simple and structured, ordinal, real, pointer, record, array, file set
Operator procedence and required functions and required procedures. The questions at the end of chapters use mathematical layouts to solve problems

http://emacswiki.org/emacs/Regular/Expression
get a classical score and use this material to mark out various patterns. I would call this math.

Math aids you to think differently if that isn't happening to you you aren't doing your homework right. Yes the things I do confuse the non readers. Then when I amaze them they say I am gifted. I'm not then when I explain my effort they get offended. You can be one of those or decide you want to be that gifted person.

The reason I think this course combination is good is it hits learning to work with several languages together. Oh I forgot to add I didn't like the icons wiki leaks prepared so I used my dad needlepoint and color symbols as my marks to designate what pattern I am looking at. Sorry this is real and if I am good at it I serve humanity.