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## Learn Your Math! – Don’t Be Stupid Human

I will never forget my high school math teacher, he taught math in my sophomore year, junior and senior, including algebra II, trigonometry, calculus, etc. At the beginning, I was mostly bored in his classes, because it seemed to me that at the beginning of each year it was just a refresher course on what I had already learned. And since I was bored, and I was a Smart Alec, I used to crack jokes, and I guess I got away with it because I was top of the class. But my math teacher was able to shut me up quickly; he was starting to write stuff on the blackboard that looked like hieroglyphs.

And then he was like “Okay Mr. Smarty-Pants what’s the answer?” And sometimes I could follow and I was lucky and got the answer right, but most of the time he was playing with the math that was in over my head at the time, totally challenging me. Then after putting me in my place he called me for the rest of the class like; “old crackpots around here, yada, yada”, but we always got on well, as he was also the adult advisor to our HS chess club.

I was talking with a retired high school math teacher the other day, and it reminded me of the good old days, and something I often imagined Richard A. Muller saying. If you don’t know Muller, he’s the Berkeley professor who teaches the course “Physics for Future Presidents – The Science Behind the Headlines,” which is also the title of his best-selling book. I don’t know why I’m picturing Richard A. Muller PhD. saying that, but I do, I hear him in my thoughts say;

“Don’t be stupid, learn your math!”

And as you know, we have to challenge our kids in high school, but we also have to make math fun and interesting, because if we lose their interest, they won’t learn anything, they won’t enjoy the subject, and so they don’t. won’t try, or won’t care. In my opinion, one of the best things a math teacher can do is give examples of what happens if you mess up the equation or get the answer to a word problem wrong.

After all, most math teachers, especially when they start teaching higher math to new students, need to keep their interest alive by using real-life problem-solving examples. Maybe what we should do is show what would happen if the kids got the answer wrong. In other words, a passenger train crashes into a freight train, a car fails to turn, or your bubble bath floods your apartment and your neighbors below you. Because it makes math real, and it makes it really important, but more importantly, it makes it fun.

It’s up to professors and teachers to show why math is so important and what happens when humans don’t learn their math. You know all the stupid things humans do because they don’t study their math or get the answer wrong. Indeed, I hope you will consider all of this and think about it.

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