The magnificence of maths

“Oh I was never any good at maths!” If I got a pound for every time someone said that after I told them I was a maths teacher, I’d have £417.39! Maths seems to be a very marmite-y subject, people either love it or hate it, could do it or couldn’t. 

When I was at school I was lucky to have some excellent teachers who helped me form good habits in the subject. However, when it came to art, music and history I was hopeless, and gave the teachers a tough time trying to think of something positive to say in my school reports. 

Today I just love how God has given people in society different skills and aptitudes: footballers, gardeners, pianists, grandparents, builders, writers, anyone who does admin. I am so grateful for the ways everyone on our street plays a part in our rich and interdependent society! 

I like maths for various reasons:

I love bringing order when there is disorder, both when I’m doing housework and when I’m teaching students how to tidy up an algebraic expression. (Did your blood just run cold?) Simplifying 5x+4y–2x+3y so it becomes 3x+7y brings the exact same sense of satisfaction as sorting out the carrots and onions that are jongling about the bottom of our fridge. Am I a bit weird?

I love the power of maths to explain things … [and] that there are still thousands of mysteries out there …

I love the power of maths to explain things. Why is there a certain knack to getting a big wave to go up and down in the bath? What angle should I throw a ball at if I want it to go really far? These questions find happy answers in some of the topics I get to teach at school.

I love that there are still thousands of mysteries out there in the world of maths. Here’s one involving even numbers (2, 4, 6, 8, 10 etc.) and prime numbers (2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19 … remember them?) 4=2+2, 6=3+3, 8=5+3, 10=7+3, 12=7+5 … Have a go; can you add two primes to get 14? 16? 18? 20? (See, you’re enjoying it!) No-one in the world knows whether this works for every even number. Maybe maths itself doesn’t know the answer.

I love equations. Have you ever asked, “What have equations got to do with real life?” Wondrously, when we ask boffins with Nobel prizes, “What is gravity?” or “What is an electron?” or “What is energy?” they describe these real-life things with maths. We want nouns and adjectives, but they give us equations!

I love that God is a mathematician! His great works of creation are described by orderly equations, and when I do all that x and y stuff, I am doing the same sort of maths that He does in the universe – in every electron and star. Astronomer Kepler once said, “I am thinking God’s thoughts after Him.”

And I love this God because at Christmas he came down and was born as a man. Jesus walked with us in real life. He became one with us so we could become one with Him, and enjoy him forever into eternity!