I have a problem.

Well, my students have a problem.

Well, I have a problem, and my students have a problem.

Actually, even my problems have problems.

The problem is that I can't give problems to my students, because they have a problems solving problems.

Here's the deal: In order to do physics, you have to understand how math works. You and I and a billion Chinese people don't think math is all that hard, but these students couldn't be more confused if we were using Roman numerals.

Velocity equals distance divided by time. V = d/t. If that is true, then it is also true that distance equals time times velocity. d = V x t. Since we know that is true, then time equals distance divided by velocity. t = d/v. Why is all of this true? Because math works that way. I mean, it's not even something that can be argued.

If v = 10, and d = 20, then t = 2. And that works for every version of the equation. 10 = 20/2. 20 = 10 x 2. 2 = 20/10. It's math. It works. It doesn't just work some of the time, it works every time.

Now, my students don't seem to want to believe that math is unchanging. Perhaps it's a consequence of transient living, of not knowing where your next meal will come from, or from not knowing if you'll see your mom or dad any time in the next few weeks. Maybe it's a symptom of our fractured national identity. Maybe it's just that they don't care. Either way, they have to learn math. Math math math. It works, every time.


Ben said...

Maybe that's because math sucks, bro.