R.P Sapkota (Teacher)

Why was Mathematics Developed ?

The foundation of Mathematics may have emerged from the need to trade. Philosophers such as Adam Smith have always claimed man to be an economic animal who invented Math to facilitate trade with others. For example, a traditional "apples-to-pigs" exchange would consist of a variable number apples for one pig. Such transactions were among several factors that led to the development of number systems.

Whilediscussingtheorigin of mathematics, we cannot help but think about the usefulness of it and it originated because of its use in society. Perhaps, however, it emerged because of its aesthetic quality and the enjoyment of creating order out of chaos through rational thinking. If we ask virtually any mathematician he/she will agree to the statement, "Mathematics, like music, is worth doing for its own sake" (Guill berg, 1997). The usefulness of mathematics is what tends to conceal and disguise the cultural aspect of mathematics. Guillberg, (1997) notes that no one ever asks about the usefulness of music: "The role of music suffers no such (cultural) distortion, for it is clearly an art whose exercise enriches composer, performer and audience; music does not need to be justified by its contribution to some other aspect of human existence." Mathematics, like music can exist without its usefulness and can be appreciated as an exercise that enriches those who come into contact with it. Also, ignoring the art of mathematics does not further its usefulness. Because of mathematics utility, the subjects taught in school, are those, which are deemed most useful, and not those which are most aesthetically pleasing. Arithmetic, deemed "a wretched-subject" by Guillberg, acts as the introduction to mathematics to most students because of its utility.

Imagine for a moment, if music was also taught in the same way, utility of music would be the first priority. Would the first music class be Musical Utility rather than Musical Appreciation? In the class Musical Utility may teach how to compose influential marches or learning songs such as the ABC song or the state song, rather than the appreciation of more complicated and sophisticated techniques as taught by masters.

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