How to maximize mathematical ability:
Be exposed to it, and use it at an early age. Using my builder-fixer friend who is not good at math as an example, he has a tremendous aptitude for
dealing with physical systems, but not with abstract equations. This is because he was exposed to the physical systems before he was exposed to the
abstract mathematical concepts. As a result, he does not do well in school but excels with practical application. But the confusing thing is, can we
call his ability "mathematical ability" then? Because he is not actually good at math, just the practical application of it. When you say
"mathematical ability" I think of the ability to manipulate and understand abstract mathematical concepts in one's mind, and then apply it. My friend
here does not seem to have that ability... so I would argue he has a "practical mind" and not a "mathematical mind."
Me, on the other hand, am neither. I had minimal exposure to physical systems, and forced exposure to math, and now am not too good at either. If I
put my mind to it I can understand most physical systems and mathematical concepts, but it is only through tremendous effort; it does not seem to come
naturally.
On the other hand, reading, writing, learning new languages, and thinking comes naturally to me. However, I don't know if I developed a creative
aptitude as an escape from the terror doing math for hours on end, or if I really am a more creative person.
I don't see myself as naturally creative, however. I see myself as more of a mixture of a mathematical and creative mind... I'd like to call it an
"analytic" or "philosophical" mind.
Now that I've thrown all these terms out there, "mathematical mind," "creative mind," "analytic mind," and "philosophical mind," I wonder if these are
all separate talents or if they are all somehow interconnected...
Anyways, getting back to the main point of this post, how to maximize mathematical ability. Exposure, but non-forced exposure. Someone who is
mathematically gifted has to find it on his own. He may not find it through math class in school... he may struggle in math class even with tremendous
mathematical ability. But he may find it through music, logic, engineering, among other things.
This is the reason why I am a philosophy major. I was not born better at reading and writing than I was at math. Up until high school everyone knew me
as the guy who was good at math, while I actually enjoyed reading and writing more, even though I was not as good at it. I tried harder in those
subjects, and through initiative and self motivation I like to think I've developed a decent analytic and philosophical mind. And I firmly believe I
was only able to do this because no one EVER told me to go do my English homework, or go read a book, or go write, or go get into advanced english
class. I did that all on my own, so now I can take pride in what I've done.
edit on 11-2-2013 by Wang Tang because: secret