Amelia Slater

I know math has hurt you. She has brought us all to tears at the kitchen table late on a school night trying to figure out how to complete the square. She has made you feel dumb in class and exhausted you with her constant problems. What does this pain amount to? For anyone pursuing a non-STEM major, possibly nothing. Arithmetic is useful in an obvious way, but anything beyond that seems frivolous. We have calculators for a reason. But what if learning math for the sake of math was worth something? What if that graphing calculator from high school could do more than solve the quadratic formula? What if we valued foundational math like we did foundational English?If your high school was anything like mine, your class begrudgingly read *Jane Eyre* in 9th grade. Everyone struggled with the prose and length of the book, but at the end you enjoy the gothic twist. By senior year, the skills you gained from reading the classics now translate into high-level comprehension and writing skills. Your morals also tend to mature because you have witnessed fictional characters wrestle with life choices and difficult themes. Later in college, these skills you obtained now allow you to read longer novels and have intellectual discussions about philosophy. Math should follow the same format.. You take algebra and geometry and struggle to find x and understand cosines. Then you come to college and discover that trigonometry and algebra are a core concept in every class you take. You move on to calculus and differential equations and find the derivation of equations you have used for years; you get to see the infinite capabilities of graphs and integrals. Struggling through the classics lets you learn the concepts that change your worldview. Imagine learning to read but never picking up a book again. That is what happens when you take high school algebra and never push yourself in math. Or, picture someone reading *Animal Farm* or *The Crucible* with no historical context. You would tell them that there is an entire dimension to the book that they are missing. Taking algebra but not calculus is missing the entire fourth dimension of math (literally: time is the fourth dimension). Take a calculus class. If not for a requirement to graduate, take it to make yourself a better person, to learn about the beauty of the invisible world around you, or to humble yourself severely (as I was when I took calculus). If you cannot commit to a math class, I would prescribe a dosage of 3Blue1Brown videos to see the curiosity and joy of math or any book by Matt Parker. Don’t let yourself be math illiterate. Become the parent who can understand your kids’ math homework and maybe inspire them to have a better relationship with math.