Struggle and Learning Mathematics
I went for a hike today in preparation for my journey to mathematics. While I have hiked 3 of the 46 Adirondack New York High Peaks, the last time I hiked, was a year ago at Tremont State Park in Ithaca, New York. I am out of shape, but why is hiking important to learning mathematics? Today, on my hike to Labrador Hollow Unique Area. I wanted to stop after only 5 minutes. My lungs hurt. My feet hurt, and I wondered why I was out in the woods. My body said stop, but my brain said “you came all this way from Oswego to hike with friend, so forget the
pain and hike”. What does this have to do with learning mathematics? Learning mathematics often requires the type of struggle experienced while hiking. Just as hiking up a mountain requires some physical and mental struggle, learning mathematics can be the same. I believe that if I had understood that struggle was part of the learning process in mathematics, I may have been able to go further in my learning. In my early days of learning mathematics, I did not know that struggle was part of the learning process. I thought that everyone knew more than I did, and I th
ink I stopped learning as much as I could have learned because I though that struggle was a sign of weakness. An important quote from Albert Einstein, “Do not worry about your difficulties in mathematics; I assure you that mine are greater”.
So, if Albert Einstein is quoted as accepting the struggle, my job as a mathematics educator is to help others see that struggle is part of the process. I am proud of my hike today. I had a chance to think about nature and how my work with learning mathematics is a universal struggle. Think about anything that is worth learning. If it comes easily, is it as satisfying as if you have had to struggle? I am not sure. My journey begins as I am reminded about why this work is important.