Fastball

Chounumerals

Let us record my characteristic prescience [solipsism? – Ed.] by noting that my latest piece, on the rigors of re-learning math, is accompanied by two articles on math education:

I don’t recall being bad at math until high school. It reminds me a bit of how, when I started Little League at age seven or eight, I was pretty good, and remained so (at least in the rosy mists of memory) until about age twelve. All of a sudden, pitches seemed very difficult to hit, if not murderous. So I stopped playing, and gradually lost interest in baseball.

I’ll pause while you dry your eyes.

Baseball_(crop)

Anyway, high school math was like that for me. And if you factor into the equation (get it?!) the possibility that I approached my secondary education with something less than ardent devotion, well… I became one of those people who says (with fair accuracy in my case) he’s bad at math.

I do remember being surprised when a high school history teacher mentioned, in an aside during a lesson on the Enlightenment, that mathematicians were attracted to the subject by its beauty. It seemed, then anyway, such a dissonant statement, like declaring the beauty of plumbing.

Factoring polynomials won’t supplant my crossword, nor will the Fields Medal folks be calling (I’m forty-two, dammit), but I do wish I’d seen math’s beauty earlier.