This was the first essay I wrote in my GP class. I got a B on this one.
Written: 14th October 2008
Mathematics is applied in every part of our life. From the moment we wake up, look at our watch to check the time, dial a number to make a phone call, pay a shopkeeper and when he gives us the change; these are just a few things where mathematics is used. The basic principles of mathematics, which are addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and counting, are all used here. Education, that is, other than the education of mathematics itself, also needs support of mathematics, but first we need to define what education actually is.
Education can be formal or informal, and basically it means to gain knowledge about anything. It can be gaining knowledge about science, but at the same time gaining knowledge about music, knowledge of painting, photography and even gaining knowledge about how to improve our thinking skills. Every form of education involves part of mathematics to be applied in it. If we take the example of academic education, like business studies, we get to know that even this subject is about handling different types of businesses, mathematics plays an important role in the learning of this subject. All the formulas required to calculate the totals, the differences etc, are ALL based on mathematics. Moving on to a different type of education, such as musical education, mathematics plays an important role in it too. Mental mathematics is always applied when one is reading the notes, playing an instrument with a constant tempo or time signature, pausing for rests, holding a note for a specific number of beats, or when composing a piece of music. Though one does not force oneself to use these basic rules of mathematics, subconsciously they are being used.
It may sound very absurd if it is said that even photography requires the use of the basic principles of mathematics, but it is true. No, I am not talking about reading the dials, setting the aperture size or the shutter speed, even using a simple point-and-shoot camera in which you just have to press a single button requires the use of mathematics. When learning photography, the very first thing that is taught is the “Rule of the Thirds”. When composing a photograph, we mentally divide a photo into 3 parts, both horizontally and vertically. In this way, the photograph is divided into 9 sections. The subject of the photograph then needs to be placed in one of these sections, and that skill is taught while learning photography. Over here, the principles of symmetry are being used to divide the photo and place the object at the appropriate sections of the frame.
Some people might disagree that understanding of the basic principles of mathematics is needed to complete education, and they will support their argument by giving examples of education of social work, first aid, self defense, martial arts, sports or English language. We do not need to understand mathematics to complete education of these different subjects. You do not need to add, subtract, divide or multiply when you are learning how to fight, how to fire fight, how to play basketball or sometimes even when singing.
Despite the fact that the importance of mathematics in music is mentioned above, there are some exceptions to it too. Singing, a part of music, does not always require any type of mathematical skills. To support this, an example of the folk singers from around the world will be enough. Almost all of them have had little education and a few are even illiterate, but the charm, the perfection and the feeling in their voice may not be matched even by any popular signed artist. Coming to arts, one does not always need mathematics to create a masterpiece painting or photo. Luck plays an important part too, but sometimes it is just guess work. A form of photography called “Camera Toss” photography only requires a the photographer to press the button of the camera and throw it in the air, and the result is an astounding piece of abstract work.
Though I have shown you the other side of the picture, we have to admit that the most prominent and important side remains the first one, on which we see that basic understandng of mathematics is not just involved in education, but in every part of our life. We use mathematics all the time, consciously and subconsciously. Just like birds know when is the time to migrate, or how bears know when its their time to hibernate, mathematics is programmed in our brains, and it is like a human instinct that we find out when and how to use it, even without actually being educated in mathematics.