Maths is the universal notation of the universe, and we use maths every day without thinking about it. You look at the dairy shelf in your local shop? You’re using geometry by way of instinctively measuring distance, angles, depth and widths and height. Maths is just the notation needed to describe this.

You might not see numbers floating in the air to indicate the coordinates and the dimensions of the object you’re observing, but they’re still there; immediately translated by your eye and your brain into vision.

I thought about this when the usual complaints about maths came up. A girl at the free period complained that she had wasted so much time with maths, and that she would never use any of it in real life. And I was thinking – silly one, you’re using geometry and audio and all right now, without even thinking about it.

Maths and language share a bond. They’re the finger pointed in awe at something beautiful. Unfortunately, maths teaching have you counting syllables and rhyme frequency instead of looking at the thing that maths point at. In maths, J Evans Pritchard rules, and Shakespeare is forgotten. Well, the old bard is quite immaterial, because who wants the setting sun when you can have angles!

Beauty and meaning and the idea is lost. People can instead despair over the angles, and then like this student that I met they can think that maths is hard and irrelevant to their lives, and not think that when they measure the red pepper in the grocery shelf they’re using geometry and arithmetic, the basics of algebra. And since they’re that close to algebra.

Sometimes I miss maths. It was never a favourite subject, but I think I was pretty good at it. I did get an MVG (which means A) in the final grade from secondary school. So, the complaint is excrement. Rip it out!

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