Too Much Happiness

Many persons who have not studied Mathematics confuse it with arithmetic and consider it a dry and arid science. Actually, this science requires great fantasy.
– Sophia Kovalevsky

I read about Sophia Kovalevsky recently and the lady’s life was pure inspiration. (The short story: Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro) Here was a person who was not only a mathematician, but also a novelist. She was the first lady to ever become a Professor of Maths in Europe and this was in the 18th century. There are a number of awards in her name to encourage girls to pursue Maths.

It is therefore with a heavy heart that I see a century and a half later, we are still limping along on this path, especially in the USA. Our minds perform best when challenged and when we shut off challenges, where are we? Fighting against preconceived notions has been a bane for many generations. This study looks at the effect Elementary School Teachers have on the children. Not surprisingly, if lady teachers were less confident in Mathematics, the girls tended to start thinking this to be the norm. The study touched a nerve because I have heard so many teachers confess that they are not great in Maths in Elementary Schools, when they shouldn’t be.

What Maths needs is patience, practice and understanding. It is as much an art as a science. When equipped with the right sort of discipline, this subject is music for the soul. I was blessed in school to have teachers who brought out the joy of Mathematics in me. I can only wish the same for all generations to come.

5 thoughts on “Too Much Happiness”

  1. Hmmm,
    I had a lady teacher for Math and she really motivated me to be good at Math, or was it that I was good at math she movitated me, dont know. but I love Math.

    1. SK – the sad thing is I have heard of so many teachers who are not good, and Maths when not explained properly can easily frustrate. The problem is, not everyone is a genius, and only those who have the patience to explain for how many ever times, to motivate to learn can truly love the subject. All of us are not going to become mathematicians. But we dont have to enjoy the subject.

    1. I fnid Asian countries a far better in this regard – I certainly did not expect it out of a country like the USA Sapna, but in the US, the notion seems absurdly common. I find it so frustrating to see intelligent girls shying away from the subject because of this notion

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