We don’t often encounter the limits of our intelligence, but the way I struggled with algebra sometimes made me wonder if I was finding my own. At such times I felt myself to be a poorly equipped version of human possibility, sort of a discard. I was also almost daily reminded of how some things needed to be learned more slowly. Meanwhile, I was harassed by my upbringing to believe that I had to work quickly; any half-smart person could work out a problem given sufficient time. I found these attitudes difficult to combine.
Dividing the fraction 7/2 by 2, I confused the properties of exponents, and thought that the product is 7, since 7 × 2 = 14 and 14/2 = 7, when in fact the answer is 7/4, since dividing a fraction by 2 is the same as multiplying by 1/2, but I got the answer wrong and got angry at math and called Amie, and she wouldn’t talk to me until I calmed down. She wasn’t always calm, either. Once I heard Benson, her husband, in the background say: “Why are you yelling at him?” When I had worn Amie’s patience too thin, I would call Deane Yang, my friend who is a mathematics professor at NYU.
New Yorker writer Alec Wilkinson struggled with maths at school, finding inspiration in literature instead. But aged 65, in the hope of unlocking a new part of his brain, he decided to put the limits of his intelligence to the test
I don’t see how it can harm me now to reveal that I only passed math in high school because I cheated. I could add and subtract and multiply and divide, but I entered the wilderness when words became equations. On test days I sat beside smart boys and girls whose handwriting I could read and divided my attention between his or her desk and the teacher’s eyes. To pass Algebra II, I copied a term paper and nearly got caught. By then I was going to a boys’ school, and it gives me pause to think that I might have been kicked out and had to begin a different life, knowing different people, having different experiences, and eventually erasing the person I am now.
When I read Memories, Dreams, Reflections, I felt a kinship with Carl Jung, who described math class as “sheer terror and torture”, since he was “amathematikos”, which means something like nonmathematical. I am by nature a self-improver. I have read Gibbon, I have read Proust. I read the Old and New Testaments and most of Shakespeare. I studied French. I have meditated. I jogged. I learned to draw, using the right side of my brain. A few years ago I decided to see if I could learn simple math, adolescent math, what in the 18th century was called pure mathematics: algebra, geometry and calculus. I didn’t understand why it had been so hard. Had I just fallen behind and never caught up? Was I not smart enough? Was I somehow unfitted to learn a logical, complex and systematised discipline? Or was the capacity to learn math like any other attribute, talent for music, say? Instead of tone deaf, was I math deaf? And if I wasn’t and could correct this deficiency, what might I be capable of at 65 that I hadn’t been capable of before? I pictured mathematics as a landscape and myself as if contemplating a journey from which I might return like Marco Polo, having seen strange sights and with undreamt-of memories.
* Nguồn bài viếtTư vấn du học Anh Quốc – Quốc Tế Du Học Đồng Thịnh dongthinh.co.uk (+84) 96 993.7773 | (+84) 96 1660.266 | (+44) 020 753 800 87 | firstname.lastname@example.org