History of Math; Where the heck did this all come from?

As I was just discussing with a classmate, I knew little to nothing about the history of mathematics before this semester. I study it, teach it, but have no clue about many of the people behind it all. Sure, you hear of the big names throughout classes; Pythagoras, Euclid, but I had never realized how many mathematicians were involved, let alone heard of them.  The Greeks had such a huge influence on mathematics, and it’s so cool to hear about all of their awesome ideas!

A technique that I’ve learned through mathematics is being able to generalize. Learning about the Greeks, I discovered that they contributed this technique to the math world and without it, it’s crazy to think how much more difficult math would be to understand. We wouldn’t be able to say that the Pythagorean Theorem would always hold true or that any theorem in general would hold true. This makes our lives so much easier as math students. We use this everyday without thinking about where it came from. As a future teacher, generalization is a huge technique to be able to teach a class because this gives students a tool to prove statements, find universal patterns and make sense of mathematical concepts.

Many people can easily do mathematical processes, but the Greeks gave us a new way to approach and look at mathematics. In high school, students begin to more formally “prove” ideas, finding existing patterns, convincing themselves and an audience of a concept. This is a way to communicate in math, showing a convincing argument to prove a statement true. We can now look at math in a more abstract way that allows us to discover new patterns and make sense of them.

The Greeks had so much influence on the way we think about mathematics today. I continue to relate it back to teaching and think how I use these concepts everyday subconsciously to educate students.


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