# Who decided to put letters in math

### Discussed curve

Math has always been pure horror for me. I already skipped the exams in elementary school. At the time of work, a hit hit my head who didn't want to leave. In view of the hits from back then, that was a kind of music torture. In any case, I never got past a four.

Sometime after the basic arithmetic operations, the content of mathematics became more and more abstract. Less and less tangible and applicable. But that's supposed to be good for learning to think. Then a new word came into my life: curve discussion. Graph? Asymptotes? Saddle points? Behavior in infinity? Again I have hit a personal low and lost forever. It was exactly the same at the age of 15 or 16 at high school: *lost in space*. But since I didn't want to give up immediately, I discussed with myself how beautiful and well-formed the curve was. In my memory, I rolled out this very special (others would say: own) discussion of the curve very tenderly and extremely poetically on two pages. A few days later, when the teacher returned the grade, I found a smiley face under the work. And at least one point - because of creativity. *Lars Langenau*

### And it clicked

Up to 8th grade I always got a high in math - then came algebra. Suddenly I should be counting on letters. I didn't understand at all how that was done. I wrote fives and sixs in algebra for years. Fortunately, math also consisted of geometry, here I wrote ones and twos and thus prevented me from staying seated. My math teachers despaired of me. They couldn't understand how one could do one thing and not understand the other at all. In eleventh grade, I was finally released from my algebra nightmare. I got a math teacher who could explain arithmetic with letters to me in such a way that it clicked in my head. In the math colloquium two years later, I had 15 points. *Claudia Urschbach*

### The Harald Schmidt of mathematics

Recognize what type of task that is, a little concentration, follow scheme F: I only realized late, a week or two before graduation, that school mathematics is actually simple and everything whining about this subject is exaggerated. That was also due to teachers who scribbled formulas, definitions and proofs on the board in chord, but never tried to make clear in a subordinate clause what all this nonsense would be used for later.

Herr Großmann was an exception. Although he taught math, he didn't take it too seriously. For him it was only a means to an end; after all, he was a doctor of physics, albeit somewhat versed in the areas of irony, sarcasm and cynicism. Mr. Großmann, post-war generation, must have often been cold as a child, because he was always of the opinion that "you had to put on a few more briquettes". Back then, in the mid-1990s, stand-up comedy was just becoming fashionable in Germany. And even if Mr. Grossmann, who liked to wear a checked shirt and corduroy trousers, could have put on "a few briquettes" in fashion, he wrapped the greyish-brown mathematics just as entertainingly as Harald Schmidt did the daily political events. *Oliver Klasen*

### But not terribly bad

I had a math teacher from the ninth grade through to college who said that the bar for students should be set particularly high when it comes to grades. In the interim reports, half of the class was regularly at great risk in terms of promotion because this teacher's lessons did not correspond to what the lessons were supposed to do. But we didn't know that at the time. We thought math class was just there to teach us how stupid we were.

When I got a new math teacher in college at a new school, Mr. E., the first thing he asked about our assessment of our abilities. I honestly replied that I was really bad because I had really believed that for three years. He looked at me and said nothing. After six months of teaching with him, I was on a two that I held until I graduated from high school. The teacher illustrated the stochastics class with the probability that Mr E. would go to the Amalfi Coast (his favorite travel destination) this year or built our class trip into tasks on analytical geometry. When I was seventeen, I wasn't afraid of a math lesson for the first time. Thank you, Mr. E. *Theresa Hein*

### Don't philosophize!

Worst off were those in the class who approached mathematics philosophically rather than simply adding numbers to the desired formula. After a first "Huh?" probed the rags: "Why?" Why should you discuss curves? Why should she take this forward personally? In the worst case, such a curve discussion would actually hinder progress, since the expected poor grade endangered the displacement. And then the philosophers, who were far less profound in everyday school life, always asked the same next question, desperately wringing their hands after tearing their hair: "And what will I ever need that for in my later life?"

No math teacher had an answer to that, at least not a satisfactory one. Hence the answer for everyone who gets philosophical about school mathematics: You will never need it, for nothing or for anyone. Because you will stay as far away from math as possible in your career choice. And don't miss it. *Katja Schnitzler*

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