Feb 17, 2008

Claudio Borges-Neto - Springfield High School
Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Blank...Blank...I'm drawing a huge blank. I've been sitting here for at least half an hour trying to start this thing. I have written and erased this introduction at least twice. Perhaps what I'm lacking is inspiration. Or perhaps I've overused it. After writing college essay after college essay, scholarship essay after scholarship essay, school paper after school paper, it may be that my inspiration is worn out. I'm tired of describing my life story through words. I'm tired of conveying emotions through words. I'm just tired of essays. It seems that every institution wants a seventeen-year-old student to have an epiphany in life. And, most importantly, after having the said life-changing and defining experience, students are supposed to put it into a five hundred word or less essay. That is why I like math class so much.

Math promotes friendships and teamwork. No other school subject is able to involve effectively so many people.

Math! I believe in it. As I have my calculus book out of my locker, a sense (dare I say it?) of joy comes to me. The world of numbers makes me alive. In math class, there is no inferring. There is absolutely no "textual support." Extended responses are in no way allowed. Allusions, alliterations, analogies, and even adages are strictly forbidden. Perhaps that is why it is my haven. The answers can only be numbers or variables. Answers cannot be ambiguous, and I never have to defend my thesis. Most importantly, I do not have to move my audience. Numbers are cold. They cannot be embellished. There is no interpretation, no opinion. There is no fiction, prose, or poem in math. Math just is; everything else tries to be. Math is truth; everything else is fancy.

Math is a world all of its own. It is a strict world, a world of angles, hypotenuses, equations, lines, and curves. Some people would like to make their home in the wonderful imaginings of literature; I cherish the harsh world of math. This year, I am enrolled in a Calculus II class. With the little math I know, I can evaluate infinity. I can find limits and calculate the area under a parabolic trajectory. I can calculate how fast a sand pile grows as a truck dumps sand at a construction site. I can calculate how much force it takes to wind a chain. It is mind blowing how much math there still is left for me to study. There are whole new dimensions for me to explore, whole new concepts to grasp. I cannot wait.

Math is, by no means, easy. It takes practice, patience, and desire to learn and excel in math class. Math often involves cooperation - a hard problem set is solved with less difficulty with a partner. In this way, math promotes friendships and teamwork. No other school subject is able to involve effectively so many people.

Math is current, its history is irrelevant. There are no dates to memorize, or important speeches to recall. A mathematician does not care about the time period in which Joseph Lagrange lived; a mathematician cares only about his monumental discovery of the solution to the isoperimetrical problem.

Most importantly of all, math has no conclusion. As long as there are people living on this earth, math will not end. It will keep growing and polishing itself, becoming greater and more complex. Math: this I believe.