# # Mathematics: Love It or Hate It? The Emotional Divide Explained

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## Chapter 1 The Dichotomy of Mathematics

Mathematics is often labeled as the most disliked subject in schools, a fact that likely won't surprise you. However, it’s intriguing to note that mathematics is also regarded as a favorite by many.

How can this contradiction exist? The answer lies in mathematics itself. If you're skeptical, I encourage you to check out this poll for clarity. I've explored the paradoxical nature of polling in a separate piece if you're interested in such discussions.

Returning to our topic, while I'm not certain if this sentiment is universal, one thing is clear: mathematics elicits strong feelings! It's quite amusing that a subject typically seen as emotionless can provoke such varied responses.

### Section 1.1 Understanding Emotions in Mathematics

When discussing mathematics with others (yes, I'm that person), I encounter starkly divided reactions. These responses are not just casual opinions; they are deeply emotional. You might hear:

“What?! You enjoy mathematics too? 😲”

or

“I absolutely despise mathematics; it's been that way since childhood! 😠”

I have a strong impression that the latter sentiment is more common. Interestingly, studies suggest that Japanese students exhibit a wider range of opinions. The divide stems from fundamentally different experiences: some students excel in math, while others struggle. Those who succeed often develop a fondness for the subject, whereas those who struggle tend to dislike it. After all, we often resent things we find difficult.

This leads us to ponder: why is mathematics perceived this way? Can we change this narrative? Before diving into those questions, let me share my own experience.

#### Subsection 1.1.1 My Journey from Math Hater to Enthusiast

I was once that child who loathed mathematics. My struggles were evident, but then my father introduced me to a friend—a tutor specializing in applied mathematics.

Every weekend, I met with this mentor to tackle my math challenges, which completely transformed my perception. Suddenly, math seemed flexible and manageable. Although I never became a math whiz, I learned to think critically and developed an appreciation for the subject.

I distinctly remember transitioning from a math hater to scoring 100% on a geometry test within months. The joy on my tutor's face when I shared my score was unforgettable. I thought to myself, “I still don’t feel particularly skilled; I just feel curious and capable of improvement.”

Despite this newfound confidence, I struggled for years to apply mathematics practically as an adult. I realized that I had to unlearn much of what I had been taught and approach math in my own way. I began creating my own terminology for the subject and made significant progress. To this day, I remain a lifelong learner, valuing the joy of solving problems over any desire to be deemed 'good' at math.

## Chapter 2 The Necessity of Mathematical Literacy

The first video titled "Why do people hate mathematics?" delves into the reasons behind this widespread aversion, providing insights into the psychological barriers that make math unapproachable for many.

The second video, "Why people hate math," explores societal attitudes towards mathematics and how these perceptions are formed, further illustrating the emotional divide.

### Section 2.1 The Argument Against Math Mastery

A common argument from math detractors goes something like this: “I don’t need to understand how an engine works to drive a car. Likewise, I can simply use a calculator to get the results I want. Why should I care about integrals or factorials?”

This analogy reduces mathematics to mere technology, akin to a car. However, unlike a car, a lack of mathematical understanding can lead to financial pitfalls.

Mathematics is more than a technological tool; it is woven into the fabric of human existence. Without a grasp of math, individuals become vulnerable to exploitation by those who are more math-savvy.

I’m not suggesting that everyone should be a math expert. Rather, it is crucial for people to understand mathematical principles and develop a basic affinity for the subject. Without this knowledge, individuals may find themselves at the mercy of various systems—markets, algorithms, pricing structures, and more.

### Section 2.2 Addressing the Problem

The root of the problem lies in early education, where many students begin to feel inadequate in math. It's not just the teachers or the educational system at fault; we all share responsibility in addressing this issue.

To combat this, students need to see the real-world applications of math before they mistakenly view it as an end goal. Math should be seen as a tool for improving lives, not a trophy reserved for a select few.

Additionally, mathematicians and educators must collaborate to make mathematics more approachable for non-experts. I’ve previously written about how mathematics as a language often fails to connect with the wider public.

## Summary and Final Thoughts

In summary, here's what we've discussed:

- Mathematics is viewed as both the most disliked and most loved subject, as evidenced by a Japanese poll.
- Emotions around math are polarized; those who excel enjoy it, while others do not.
- I once detested math but found inspiration from a mentor, which sparked a lasting passion.
- Avoiding math can leave individuals susceptible to exploitation in various sectors.
- Students often misinterpret math as an endpoint, damaging their self-esteem. They should be inspired by practical applications of math.
- Collaboration among mathematicians and educators is essential to make math more accessible.

A MAP of almost ALL of my work till date. Enjoy!

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You can read the original essay here.