Leaders should study mathematics

First, before we say that ‘leaders should study mathematics’ we first have to define what a leader is! In class we have loosely defined a leader as anyone that moves! We have gone so far as to even say that a follower is a leader! Therefore, we can conclude, that everyone is a leader, and leaders, should study mathematics.

Like most people who grew up in our public education system, I didn’t like math while going through my 12 years of schooling. It was tedious, excessive, I didn’t see a point to it. However, just like many others as well, I didn’t like math until college!

Let’s say there’s a scale from 1 to 100. 1 is dead wrong, and 100 is absolute correctness. If K12 math was taught as a 1 on this scale, college math would be taught as a -99999! Do you agree with me? Take the situation I have experienced so far. I am in a math class with 120 students, the professor said it was the most crowded math class since extra people had to be stuffed in over the defined total limit. Class attendance for every class is roughly 98%, all the seats are always filled, once I had to stand in the back of the room because I came in 5 minutes late!

So, given that the class attendance rate is so high, you would expect that the average score of 120 students on the first test – the easiest given test- would be near 100, correct? Wrong. The class average for the first test – the easiest test for the entire class – was a 53! The professor saw nothing wrong with it. Last year the average was around 60, but 53 is fairly close, fairly close, so there is nothing wrong. Do you agree with what he is saying? Class is graded on a bell curve, so as long as you’re close to 53, you have a C, even though realistically speaking, if it weren’t graded on a bell curve, a 53 would be an F, meaning, basically everyone failed.

Get this logic – yes – people in the class will pass the class – they will get credit for having completed it – it will show up on their transcript – but does that mean they understand the mathematics behind it? No. The majority of the students got nearly half of the questions wrong, meaning, the majority of the students have no clue what the subject is even about!

So, how does this tie into me liking mathematics? Well, think about it this way – I recently found out mathematics is fun. The reason why the majority of the world dislikes it, is because it’s taught incorrectly, yet it has so many practical uses, that it’s mind blowing! What was unbelievable was that in Geometry class, the teachers gave you the formula to find the area of a triangle, but now how to find that formula. They gave you the formula for the area of a circle, but not how that came to be! It took hundreds of years actually, before Pi was discovered! Hundreds of years of critical math thought – you try discovering Pi on your own!

That’s exactly what math is about. Self discovery. I’ve read biographies of many mathematicians (http://library.thinkquest.org/22494/main_page/math_stories_and_humour.htm) and essays on how math is an art, beautiful (http://www.maa.org/devlin/lockhartslament.pdf), and I’ve come up with a single conclusion; that math should be for the most part, self-learned.  Consider this person named Ramunajan, he was a poor kid who found a math book one day, he studied it thoroughly, and then grew up to become one of the most influential mathematicians of all time, from rags, to riches, literally.

Math can be found everywhere you look. Underlying code that you see in your browser lies millions of algorithms that make your compute run, making use of mathematical theorems previously used in the past. The stock market used to be packed with people yelling at each other to trade – now it’s mostly done by computers who can think faster than any human. Algorithms have been written that creates music similar to Mozart, writes articles like that of a seasoned reporter, to drive cars better than the average car driver, all of this through math.

Throughout my entire life I’d always thought that math was useless. What use did a person have for math? People in class would always ask “Why do I need to learn this? I’m not going to use it ever again!” Have I never believed in something so wrong! I hope you wake up from the same delusion that I used to have; ‘math is useless’ and read this mind-life-changing-essay: http://www.maa.org/devlin/lockhartslament.pdf

Here are some basic things that all involve math, keep in mind, if you can think of anything there’s math involved!:

-Windows PCS – powered by math
-Macs – powered by math
-the chair you’re sitting on – constructed by math
-the building you’re in – thank you math
-the plumbing that makes water flow from your faucet – hi math
-the electricity hidden within the walls that turns on your lights and powers your laptops – math here
-Google and its 35,000 employees – all are masters of math
-The top 500 richest people in Forbe’s richest list – are no strangers to math, you think Bill Gates or Steve Jobs don’t know math?
-The construction of your clothing – math is used heavily
-satellites in space – math
-wireless internet and wireless radio and wireless in general – math math math

Everywhere you look, there’s math! Math plays an integral part in your life, whether you know it or not. I used to dislike math too, but I’ve woken up to the real world. Math is everywhere, embrace it, or get left behind.

Also, there’s a quote ‘You can be a celebrity like Michael Jackson and be known for 100 years after you die, or you can be a mathematician like Pythagoras, Einstein, Euler, Gauss, Schrodinger, Newton, Granger, et al and be immortal for eons to come!’

Not only that, being a celebrity with no mathematical skill makes you a leech. You have no contributions at all to society – yet you claim high importance over everyone else. Mathematicians advance the ages. Once geometry was discovered, come better designed houses, buildings, and furniture! Once calculus was discovered, come steam engines, radio, electricity! Once E=MC^2 was discovered, come atomic bombs, protons, electrons, DNA, the Internet!

Everyone is a leader. All leaders should understand mathematics. Therefore, everyone should understand mathematics.

3 Responses to “Leaders should study mathematics”

  1.   llawson Says:

    As much as I hate to admit it, you’re right. Math is a very useful skill for leaders to know. In a more concrete since, math has a very practical application when it comes to evaluating claims you make your decisions based off of. In my Government Research Methods and Analysis class, we have dedicated a lot of time to looking at statistics and political surveys. You would be amazed at how much of what you hear is data that has been severely manipulated. Knowing math is one way to protect yourself from such misinformation – not to mention everything you mentioned here!

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