Mathematics as a universal language in a globalised society
hy should one have to convince another person that it is useful to learn something, after having studied it for years in one's life? This means that something is not right, and that only the teaching of something is being imposed. That is why there is a resentment gained over the years towards this wonderful science that is mathematics, which allows us to model and understand everything around us.
Mathematical concepts are the only ones that a person hears from pre-school to postgraduate level, and yet there are topics that are not mastered even though they have been taught for years, for example fractions. I attribute this to the fact that the education system is still struggling to cover content that develops skills for a society living in the second industrial revolution, focused on mass production.
There is no single culprit, as we are all part of the system. Each one of us must promote changes in our families or governments to educate ourselves at least to face the third industrial revolution that took place in 2007 — marked by robotisation, internet or renewable energies — but also to face a fourth industrial revolution that has begun in recent years, led by machine intelligence, biotechnology, nanotechnology and the internet in the cloud.
The art of problem solving
With this scenario in front of us, mathematics is of great importance to have the fundamentals to explain and solve problems in our lives.
And I am not only referring to basic operations to go to a place to shop or pay for transport, because for that one should only study up to primary education. One should start teaching mathematics focused on the art of problem solving, so one needs first to have the interest to be able to focus on that challenge, then to have mathematical foundations or theorems to choose which one is useful, to go through trial/error, and finally to reach the moment of excitement or joy, which is the solution.
Unfortunately for all this to happen it takes time and personalised feedback to develop these skills, and one problem is that sadly in a traditional classroom this does not happen, as they are designed for a teacher to share information and not challenges to a large group of students in a small amount of time.
Mathematics is of great importance in order to have the foundations to explain and solve problems in our lives
Another problem that every mathematics teacher or parent faces is that students question what use mathematics is to them in their lives. And there are often situations that in today's society do not generate a major challenge, because technology solves them in seconds. But mathematics is much more than that, it is about developing skills to understand relationships between numbers, geometric figures or abstract ideas. It allows you to make decisions on a small or large scale: whether you are a lawyer or an engineer, you will have to solve problems based on relationships between arguments or theories and data. Some people will say that they do their activity without using mathematics, but I assure you that it will take them more time and money to complete it.
A dark scenario for mathematics in everyday life
Despite having a dark scenario for understanding mathematics, it is always possible to improve the relationship with it, starting to look for content that makes you feel that you are able to solve something or that attracts your attention. Because who doesn't like to return to a space where you have a good time?
So the first step to getting good at maths is to start searching the internet for topics such as logic challenges, maths, number games and even introductory maths olympiad problems, so that the internet algorithm and social networks do their job, which is to almost automatically deliver content that the user needs. Since there are many websites and edutubers or content creators that will support you to learn what you want and when you want.
In the digital and connectivity era, you should not study to be assessed by a school, but by a globalised society
Living in the digital and connectivity era, you don't have to study to be evaluated by a school, but by a globalised society. This is how we consume: by playing online video games, content on social networks or even shopping for goods on the internet. And therefore the level of mathematics one must learn in school or outside of school is also globalised. Just search for "how is a mathematics subject taught in another language" and you can access its content, having an idea of the academic standard of the country or countries that speak this language, since it doesn't matter if you are in China or Spain, the theorems, formulas and procedures will be similar.
In conclusion, mathematics is a universal language that allows us to communicate and solve global problems, and those who understand it develop skills that allow them to collaborate and make decisions regardless of the city or country in which they live.
José Andalón holds a bachelor's and master's degree in engineering and telecommunications. Raised in Baja California (Mexico), he co-founded Math2me, the most followed educational platform focused on teaching mathematics in Latin America. He has been invited by the US State Department to meet and share digital education trends with various companies, universities (MIT, Harvard, Boston University) and government entities. The contents of Math2me are present in the form of QR codes in Baldor, the most used algebra book in LATAM, since 2017.