Try to imagine a world without mathematics
We recently took a look at how integral mathematics is to our everyday lives. It pops up everywhere, so much so that it’s easy to take it for granted. Perhaps a better way to truly appreciate the value of maths is to imagine a world where mathematics doesn’t exist. How would that landscape look?
In an effort to bring this idea to life, we’ve done some hunting around the web to see what we could find.
First, let’s imagine what it’s like to live in a world where mathematics exists for everyone except you. That’s an everyday experience for Line Rothmann, a woman who has developmental dyscalculia, which means she has difficulty understanding anything and everything math related.
Dyscalculia is a condition that is thought to affect 1 in 20 people. In this video, she shares her story and the tips and tricks she uses to get through the day.
“A colourblind person does not explain what they see. They explain what others tell them they are unable to see,” says Line, trying to articulate what life is like for her.
Now imagine how different our daily landscape would be if mathematics had never came to be. It would mean no time, no calendars, no buildings, no transportation, no recipes… the list goes on and on. Quite simply, all of the comforts which make our lives what they are today would be no more. This video is an interesting overview of all the things we’d have to say goodbye to, if we were to bid farewell to maths. It’s quite a sobering list!
Have you ever heard someone proudly say, “Oh, I don’t do math”? There are people who resign themselves to this concept and it becomes a badge they almost wear with pride. But you would never hear people say “Oh, I don’t read”, like it’s a good thing. So what is it about maths that makes some people feel like they can exist without it? In this fascinating talk, Emily Calandrelli, who once worked for NASA and as the producer and host of FOX's Xploration Outer Space, discusses the importance of STEM literacy.
“[When it comes to STEM skills], we put these skills on a pedestal, reserved for people in glasses and lab coats,” says Emily. “We revere people like Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein, but we don’t consider them pertinent to everyday life… It’s time we threw away that mindset.”
These are some interesting starting points for all of us to consider the importance of mathematics, and not only what it has given us throughout the ages, but also where it will take us in the future. When asked to consider a world without mathematics, no matter who you are, it would require you to give up most of the things in your life that you hold dear.
So the next time you handle money, watch the TV or drive in a car, stop to appreciate numbers, maths and what they’ve given you lately. And of course, spare a thought for maths teachers, who play a truly pivotal role in fostering a love and appreciation of maths within each new generation as they pass through the education system. Where would we be without them?