Sums

I used to enjoy Maths. At school, it was my favourite subject. I was not the greatest at it, but it made sense to me.

Partly, i suppose, I got it from my dad, who had that kind of mind and was good with numbers. I had some great teachers. But mainly, it was logical, more so than History, for example, which was all about learning unrelated facts, something I can never do. I mean, look at the dates of Kings and Queens of England and tell me the logic behind it. None, of course. Chemistry was similar. Possibly there was some kind of logical system in naming organic and inorganic compounds, but it was never explained to me.

We didn’t have calculators in my day. We used books of tables, and great fun it was. You really understood sines and cosines, and could do logarithms like nobody’s business.

I taught Maths in school for a lot of years, and enjoyed it when apparently unrelated topics finally came together and the pupils could see links between, say, trigonometry, complex numbers and hyperbolic functions.

When I would go out, people would often ask ‘what do you do?’ and I told them. Usually you would get ‘I hated Maths’. Sometimes ‘when do I ever need to calculate the area of a parallelogram?’ I do understand that not every person enjoys every subject, and that is fine. But studying Maths helps you think rationally and logically. When presented right it can be really fascinating.

I am sure Stephen Hawking would have agreed.