Mathematical thinking is a deep and complex subject. On the surface it just looks like numbers and putting them in different orders to get what you need. In reality there is a lot of thinking – unique thinking that goes on in the brain in order to understand this subject. When I was in school I always struggled with Math. Now, being a Korean that means I still made an A but I had to work really hard to do it. LOL Honestly, it kept me up at night and I dreaded each assignment.
Many of us have inborn limitations on how we perceive numbers and math. These CAN be overcome – as I did but if you are already naturally keen with mathematics it certainly makes it easier to understand. Success sometimes rely heavily on the kind of memory system you have and if it is strong or weak. There are some very interesting articles about this concept.
Then there are the higher maths. Oh my goodness. I had already struggled with multiplication tables because my rote memory is shit. But I was quick enough at adding that I got through all the hoops. I still use a calculator today. I CAN do it but I don’t have to so I don’t. When I studied Algebra it was miserable. Geometry made more sense for my brain. Thank you word problems! Trig was a blur. Analytical Geometry made sense to me. Calculus did me in. They stuck me in an AP Calculus class – the only calculus class we had because they needed a 10th student to be approved for a full class. While I could understand the concepts the speed at which the class went was too much for me and I asked to drop the class per my right. The teacher begged me to stay in for 10 days and she would speak to the principal about letting me out after that. Out of the other 9 students I would say 6 were natural mathematicians and they actually seemed to ENJOY the challenges (monsters). The other 3 took a bit more time but talked the talk so I assume they learned the walk after I left. I am no dummy mind you, but my super power was English and Science. Each to its own I guess. Imagine my shock when I found out in college that I had not even TOUCHED true “higher maths”. I was so happy to be an English major. LOL
According to research “in the mathematicians only, listening to math-related statements activated a network involving bilateral intraparietal, dorsal prefrontal, and inferior temporal regions of the brain. This circuitry is usually not associated with areas involved in language processing and semantics, which were activated in both mathematicians and nonmathematicians when they were presented with the nonmathematical statements. “On the contrary,” says study co-author and graduate student Marie Amalric, “our results show that high-level mathematical reflection recycles brain regions associated with an evolutionarily ancient knowledge of number and space.” Did you get that? No? Okay, maybe you should read this article:
In layman terms our brains are unique and some of us have areas that are more open than others. Mine happened to be more open for language related subjects. My husband and younger daughter? Math all the way. When they talk it is fascinating to watch them smile and laugh about nuances of the math problem they just solved together. In the meantime my oldest daughter and I talk about how amazing a certain word is and where it came from and oh, but if you add this or that to it the entire meaning changes! So, to each his own I reckon.
I am just happy to have learned that I was not BAD at math – I was just BETTER suited for other challenges. It was not that I was not trying hard enough – it was always a struggle because my brain thinks differently. It would be so great if we could take tests and maybe get MRI images before high school so we can be in the right classes. Just spit balling here. LOL