Life through a Mathematician’s Eyes

Today's mathematical model is ioana from LThMath (Life through a Mathematician's Eyes). She is a mathematics teacher from Scotland who loves sharing her passion for math with the world! Aside from our similar names, I realize we have a lot in common. We are both frustrated and intrigued by people's negative perceptions of math. In wanting to learn more about why math is such a hated subject, Ioana decided to pursue teaching. Through this, she is able to help encourage her students to see the beauty in math! Read her story here:

What happens if people around you consider you are just a little good at mathematics, but not that great? Well, that was me… During secondary school and then high school I was always considered to be somewhat good at math, but it was never enough, so it was not my priority. It was just a subject I understood faster and a little better than the others. Every time a teacher asked me about a competition I always said “NO!” This was not because I considered them irrelevant, but because I only knew boys who were going. I was scared by how much they were preparing and I always thought that it would be impossible for me to cope with the amount of workload required. So I never participated in any major competition. Little did I know at that time what life would offer me.

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The strange thing was that though I never considered myself good at this subject, I enjoyed doing it. I enjoyed every single exercise and problem. It was strange how every single time I was solving a math question it was as if the world around me stopped. I have never really told anyone about this because I was scared they were going to laugh about it. But when I was by myself I was always looking in my math book, something in there made me feel at peace with everything around me. I was doing math problems whenever I felt sad, lonely or even happy and excited. And in that time, it was a unique world: only I and my math book were part of it. 

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In the end I decided to study mathematics at university. Moreover, I moved to another country and everything changed for me. Another university, another country, another language; everything was new and different. I realised there is more to mathematics than I have ever imagined. So I did my best and tried harder than ever. I was shocked by the amount of topics that exist in mathematics, by all the applications and all its beauty. It was more than I could imagine. Deepak Chopra once said that “mathematics expresses values that reflect the cosmos, including orderliness, balance, harmony, logic and abstract beauty” and I cannot agree more. Starting to study mathematics is like the key to every other thing in the entire cosmos. Moreover, there is no way you could learn or study everything math offers you, every day there is something new to discover and the choices are almost infinite.

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The only thing that casts a shadow over this wonderful subject is its bad reputation. Sometimes, I keep getting the same reaction from people around me that ‘mathematics is something hard and horrible’ as if ‘MATH = mental abuse to humans’. This makes me so angry sometimes. It is so unfair that such a rich subject is seen in such a bad way. Did they ever think about what our life would be without mathematics? How much could our society evolve without its existence? I have travelled to many countries and I have met many people, but everyone is talking about the same problem. More people should start talking about math’s usefulness, creativity and harmony. Therefore, one day I started to work on changing people’s attitude about mathematics. This was the start of my life long project: Life Through a Mathematician’s Eyes (LThMath for short). I have started a blog and then a Facebook page. Recently I have started using other platforms, such as Tumblr (lthmath), Instagram (lthmath) and Twitter (LThMathematics). I do not want only to explain math concepts (school-level ones), but also to show the importance of math to our society. I want people to be disturbed by the importance and beauty of mathematics. My motto is `The study of mathematics is like air or water to our technological society'. 

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Since I started writing this blog and posting on social media I have wanted to find out more about what is happening with mathematics in schools. I was never totally interested in this aspect and how it influences people’s opinion about this subject. Therefore, I have tried teaching. Since last year, I am a fully qualified teacher in Scotland and I enjoy it so far. It is an interesting and challenging job, but it gives me the opportunity to understand more about why it makes some people think so negative about it. Moreover, working with children is incredible and so rewarding; you can get from extremely frustrated to mesmerized in a couple of seconds, but when you see that “EUREKA!” moment on their faces, that’s all that matters.

I am not a genius and I am definitely not that good at mathematics, but it is the only place I feel that I belong to. So I would like everyone to see the importance and the beauty of it. I will always be a student, but I will take my ‘dream world’ with me everywhere. I may not be able to change everyone’s concept, but I will do my best to share the world -- I once thought was reserved just for myself -- with as many people around me as I can. As Simeon – Denis Poisson once said, “life is good for only two things, discovering mathematics and teaching mathematics.”

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Thanks, Ioana, for helping us see the beauty in mathematics. Her facebook page Life Through A Mathematician's Eyes is my favorite facebook page! She consistently posts interesting articles, videos, infographics, memes, photos, and tidbits of information relating to ALL things math! I love seeing this bit of refreshing content come through my facebook feed :). You can also check her out on Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter!