the illogic of math

This is perhaps the best thing I’ve ever read:

“Six months after I started to write Wrinkle, I discovered higher math. And for me, higher math is much easier than lower math. Lower math lost me in 4th grade when I was taught that 0 x 3 equals 0. Now, I understand that if I have nothing and I multiply it by 0, 3 something’s are not going to appear. But, if I have 3 apples and I multiply them by 0, why are they going to vanish? So I wiped out lower math as philosophically untenable.”

– Madeleine L’Engle

My entire elementary math career makes sense now. Brilliant.

One thought on “the illogic of math

  1. In many ways I appreciate this quote. I myself am just like that. Im a skilled mathematician and can do multivariate calculus problems in my head. But the simple fact of the matter is that basic arithmetic is still my weak point, it is what ultimately slows me down and holds me up. No matter what math you are in or are learning, multiplying two three-digit numbers in your head is still just as difficult as it always has been. Arithmetic, to me, is not math. Math is symbols, its concepts, it can be manipulated about in your head or on paper and still holds no numeric meaning until you finally do the arithmetic.

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