Q: Isn’t math boring?
A: Sometimes. As in any field of study, there are rough areas you have to plough through in order to get to the truly fascinating stuff. All the math which is taught through the end of high school is like that. They only teach the basics, the raw and often ugly tools you need in order to unlock the world of mathematics. For example, trigonometric identities are horribly tedious, but you have to know them well in order to understand why eiπ+1=0, which is unbelievable once you see it happen. Sal Khan says about that equation, “If this does not blow your mind you have no emotions.”
Q: Why mathematics?
A: Mathematics is the stuff my brain is made of. It’s not for everyone. I love the way everything connects and works out (assuming you solve the problem). The way the unit digits of square numbers create a palindrome. The way the prime numbers are the symbols of originality. The way everything in the world can be represented or explained by mathematics. There’s a kind of harmony to numbers which can only truly be seen if you dig deep enough. So that’s what I’m doing here. Digging deeper.
Q: Why not music?
A: Yoyo Ma, the world renowned cellist said about music that it is a discipline one never stops learning. Even if you don’t study with a teacher, you never stop learning. I’m playing in the university orchestra and of course I still sometimes do karaoke on the piano. I wanted music to remain something I do because I love it, and not because someone’s paying me. Neil Gaiman says he’s never regretted things he’s done for reasons other than money, but if you do something just for the money, and you don’t get the money, what do you have? It’s difficult to make a living as a professional musician, so I chose to have music in my life but not rely on it as a source of income. (I am not criticizing people who do! I ‘m just saying this was the choice I made.)
Q: What’s it good for?
A: Well, what is any BA good for? The reality these days is that a bachelor’s degree does not guarantee work. It also does not guarantee better pay, although hopefully, if you do get a job, it should allow you to be paid more. Assuming there are jobs available, the jobs you can get paid more for with a degree in mathematics are mostly in finance, business or High Tech. High Tech managers have noted that they would just as soon take a person with a degree in Mathematics as a person with a degree in computers.
Q: So you want to be a math teacher?
A: I’m sure I will find myself in education somewhere along the way, however, being a teacher is not my final destination. If all I wanted to do was teach math, I would not need a degree in math.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: I don’t know yet and that’s okay.