When Math Stopped Being About The Answers

When Math Stopped Being About The Answers

Things were so much simpler when I first started learning about math. The goal every problem was about the answer. You had two numbers and add them together to find the answer. When you have two trains going the opposite direction, the goal find out where they’ll be in two hours and yada yada yada.

That all changes as you get older. Suddenly, the numbers get replaced with letters and you start trying to find equations instead of numbers. We had quadratics, angles, sines and eventually derivatives and integrals.

This odd concept first came to me in college my freshman year. I was taking Calculus classes as well as first year physics courses. The physics courses didn’t use Calculus the first year, so we were left actually solving problems.

I began to notice that the answers I was getting for physics had a completely different format than the ones for my Calc class. We were solving for create derivatives and integrals and complete bypassed actually finding number answers. Sure, we had the occasional real world modeling problem, but they were few and far between.

My first year of physics was my favorite because I actually was able to find hard concrete answers for these problems. They may have been incredibly simplified and did not take into account about a dozen other forces acting on it, but it still felt good.

I never had that feeling again for the test of college. Part of me not becoming a physicist was I couldn’t get that feeling back.