Planning my Theory of Knowledge class on Mathematics as an Area of Knowledge, I realise again what a strange mixture of art and maths I am! How I enjoy mathematics! Yet, I realise how much can be challenged.
Is mathematics associated with beauty?
What is the focus of mathematics – reliability, validity, certainty or truth?
What is the point of mathematics?
Is mathematics, as a system, a simplistic reduction of the world into categories that do not really exist?
Is the study of integration/derivatives/imaginary numbers/irrational numbers a meaningful contribution to human knowledge?
Thinking along these lines, I realised that in mathematics, context is often irrelevant. We discussed three examples that the class enjoyed thoroughly.
Mathematics is the only subject in which you can buy 32 watermelons and no one will ask ‘why’.
“If you have three oranges and four apples in one hand and four oranges and three apples in the other, what do you have in all?”
“Very large hands.”
“A can with a hole is filled with water at the rate of 4 ml per second. Water leaks from the can at the rate of 1.5 ml per second. If the can can hold 500 ml in all, how long will it take to fill it?”
“Why can’t you just mend the can first?”