What does ‘thinking mathematically’ even mean? Does it make you think of a nerdy kid crunching numbers on a calculator or a strait-laced accountant doing someone’s tax return?
Time for an update.
Many people unfortunately (and illogically) assume that doing maths is for those who are already ‘good’ at maths, and that if you aren’t, you should avoid it like the plague. We’ve all heard people say, “But I’m terrible at maths”, and shut right down. Then there’s “I don’t get it” — the default response to a new or difficult concept.
But that’s the wrong way to look at maths. Don’t get something right away? Keep trying. The very act of doing maths makes you better — not just at maths, but at thinking. How? Doing maths trains the brain, just like using your muscles makes them stronger.
When you do maths, the brain is learning to see connections — and building important neural pathways. Those connections and pathways then help you critically analyse and solve other problems, including those that have nothing to do with maths. Even if you’re not planning on pursuing maths jobs, the skills you will take away from studying maths will be useful in any career.
“When you learn maths, you’re building both flexibility and creativity, which will be fundamental when you’re navigating your way into the job market.”
- Lily Serna, Atlassian
As Lily Serna, data analyst at Atlassian, says, “Maths helps you to think in a systematic and logical way.” That makes sense, but she also says it’s “for those who are curious about the world”. And who isn’t?
Maths goes well beyond systems and logic. When you learn maths, you’re also building both flexibility and creativity, which will be fundamental when you’re navigating your way into the job market. Tomorrow’s jobseekers — you and your friends — will need to be flexible thinkers who can problem-solve.
So, next time you’re grumbling about maths homework or struggling to get your head around a mathematical concept, remember that you’re not only exercising your brain, but also preparing yourself for all kinds of amazing maths jobs.