Welcome fellow math enthusiasts. But there is a higher probability that you are here to BECOME a math enthusiast- after all, it’s a “how to become better” article.
So to start things off, let’s talk about a very common misconception that, “people are just born being good at mathematics”. No! This is false. To become better in mathematics get this idiotic idea out off your head.
Now you might just ask me, “then why are the math-whizzes mostly Asians. Surely it’s a genetic thing.” Well, friend, if you have these thoughts, you are a racist, and secondly, you are WRONG! The only reason why you might be bad at mathematics is because you are lazy!
Yes, people living in the east are better in math, but take into account that they go to school about two months more than the people living in the west. Hence, they have more exposure to mathematics, as well as all other subjects.
Learning math is just like learning a language. Is learning a language genetic? Imagine this: a child with Spanish blood, due to some contingency lost her parents and grew up in Germany being adopted by a German couple. Which language do you think will come more naturally to him, German or Spanish?
Mathematics is like that; you have to be in the presence of mathematics. Practice it. Spend time with other people who love math. Automatically you will become “fluent” in mathematics.
Now, of course, learning English will not make you Shakespeare and no guide can help you either. Similarly, this is not a guide on how to become Einstein.
But yes, follow the advice given and math and you will become good friends, and you will understand everything that she is telling you.
How to become good in mathematics
1. There is no such thing as a “math person”:
This article was started with this statement, and I cannot emphasize this more. The very thought will act on you on a psychological level and make you demotivated to do the most important thing- practicing math.
I have science to back this up. There have been numerous tests done by scientists to show that there exists no causation between mathematics and genetics.
Look in real life. Everybody uses math to some extent.
Painters use it for curves and depth. Doctors use it to calculate the dosage of medicine. Medicine has a whole new branch called bio-mathematics. Sculptors will use math to make sure their sculptures don’t collapse in on themselves.
Mathematics can be visualized as a language, if not comparable to English, but quite analogous to music.
And just like music can be learned by all and any person, so can mathematics.
2. Get off your couch and PRACTICE:
Learning math is not like learning history. You can’t hope just to read notes and learn. Take a pen and lots of paper and do some sums. If you can’t solve problems then just look at solved problems from some book and write them down. Try and understand how step-1 lead to step-2. If you can’t, ask your teachers for help, I’m sure they will be happy to assist.
Now I know writing down mathematics and understanding the equations can be intimidating at first. But just be honest with yourself, when you first read ‘c,’ ’a’, ’k’, ’e,’ scribbled on a piece of paper, wasn’t it weird to you that this was cake.
If you have ever learned music, then all the staff notations should have seemed like some cool tattoos, but now they have become music to your eyes.
So spend time with it. Practice it. Eventually and surely you will become good.
3. Rewrite notes
This is a crucial part of your path to becoming good in mathematics. While in your math class, the teacher will zoom through many topics. He has to, and there is no blaming him. He has a course outline to cover in a given period, and he can’t follow the rule of lowest common denominator or else the course will not be done.
So you as a student should rewrite your class notes in your leisure periods. It is not merely copying the records. While rewriting, you will find yourself asking the questions again and finding the answers again. This is how the concepts of the problem are going to stick truly with you.
4. Learn the Concepts
Remember when I said practicing is the main thing for becoming good in math. Well, conceptual learning is also vital to becoming good at mathematics and most importantly to see its beauty.
Mathematics is all about concepts and ideas. Abstractions created by human minds to solve problems or merely visualize the world around us.
Don’t just solve your math problems but take the time to understand why this problem is important in the first place. Don’t just study algebra; learn about the necessities which lead to the creation of algebra. The inventions of geometry, trigonometry, co-ordinate geometry, calculus are great stories of human curiosity.
You will automatically develop an appreciation towards mathematics once you see, how based on some simple concepts and already proven math, ideas like gravity and kinetics came to be; which in turn revolutionized the world.
5. Give self-organized Examinations
Consider this analogy. Suppose you are an Olympics runner. How will you be preparing for the 100-meter dash in the Olympics? Will you be just simply training, or will you simulate a 100-meter dash for yourself?
Original Olympics runners have run many simulated 100 meter dashes with all their heart. They are not going to do their first 100-meter dash right there at the Olympics.
Only training for an exam will not prepare you for the exam, as during the exam you just might get overwhelmed.
It’s a very bad idea to go and perform in a math exam, in the exam itself. Giving self-exams will prepare you for aspects like, time management, which sums to do first, make you aware of the types of mistakes you are prone to make, etc.
6. Engage yourself with other math enthusiasts
Suppose yourself as a person who fancies art. Well you know big names like Da Vinci, Picasso, Van Gogh to look up to and appreciate the beauty of that branch of study. Similarly, in literature there are people like Shakespeare, in music there are Beethoven, Mozart, etc.
Now in the fields of physics and biology, there are some great contemporary scientist and enthusiast like Neil De Grasse Tyson, Richard Dawkins, and who can leave out the great Carl Sagan.
All these people are widely promoted by social media and are very well known names. As a result concepts like DNA, black holes, time travel, multiverse, all have become a part of our cultural discourse.
The point to be noted is that mathematics has not attained such status despite the modern mathematical concepts are no more complicated than these and equally engaging.
So instead of letting social media fill up your feeds with amusing math concepts, you go ahead and search them out yourself. Google for mathematical concepts or just find some math enthusiasts. They will kindle an admiration and love for the subject. One good point to start will be studying “The Golden Ratio” by Mario Livio.
As previously stated, mathematics is used in every field imaginable. It is all around us; it is THE language of nature. Even if we are not able to employ the grand knowledge, we should at least be educated enough to know and understand it.
If we don’t understand mathematics and what it is conveying, we will leave our lives unfulfilled. And this is not in a philosophical way. It is very simple to use some complex mathematics to befool some ignorant person, and such conning happens every day.
So know your math and be an active member of the modern world. Never stop learning cause you know who the saying goes, “a life understood is a life lived.”