Friday, June 24, 2011

Learning Math

Saw the following comic at Abstruse Goose. The title is Nocturne.

(Image is CC BY-NC 3.0)

My family moved often when I was little. My parents were also too busy working to have time to watch over me. I was often asleep by the time they got home and awake only after they've left for work. Learning math made me feel less lonely. I thought to myself that what was going through my head also was also going through someone else's head hundreds or thousands of years ago. There was this sense of connection to someone I've never met. It's as if we grokked one another (I didn't know the word at the time) and had this shared marvel at the mathematical beauty and wonder about an universal truth. We were part of some special club. My parents weren't completely absent. So math wasn't to me what it was for Bertrand Russell. It nonetheless helped me deal with my sense of loneliness.

It would be a long time before I moved past the consumer model of the shared experience depicted above. Math is more than just retracing steps and appreciating the beauty of what's been done. I would've liked the comic more if the protagonist were playing the musical piece, even more if he were playing a variation or was creating a piece with same theme. When I first read it though, it got me reminiscing about why I first fell in love with the subject that I teach.

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