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Is it true not all of us can get a math degree?

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  • Thread starter kramer733
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  • #26
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The problem is that eventually, this student will hit a wall. Maybe in high school, maybe not until grad school... but at *some* point in everyone's life, it takes hard work to make progress.

I admit though, this is usually the point when people stop making progress... :-)
I think it is more demoralizing for those who work hard and still hits a wall rather than for those who don't work hard and hits a wall. I figure that if I really want something then I will work, if it didn't mean that much then I obviously don't care so it is fine too.

Everyone no matter who they are or how much they work will always have limitations.
 
  • #27
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The problem is that eventually, this student will hit a wall. Maybe in high school, maybe not until grad school... but at *some* point in everyone's life, it takes hard work to make progress.

I admit though, this is usually the point when people stop making progress... :-)
I agree. Somebody's wall may be college algebra. Another person's may be algebraic topology or some other esoteric field. That's when you find out what you're really made of. I know that for me, I have had a real tough time with upper level physics courses. Stupid Lagrangian mechanics!

For all the bickering over "natural" talent, it's good to see so much encouragement for the OP!
 
  • #28
fluidistic
Gold Member
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So i was talking with 2 of my grade 12 math teachers. Both agreed that each individual person has their "ceiling" where they max out in terms of mathematical knowledge and advancement. This really got me discouraged because what's carried me through math was because i was always willing to work at it and work hard at it. So bottom line, is this really true?
Sure it's true. For instance you live a finite amount of time and you can't learn everything there is in such a little time. I think some people never reach any ceiling before dying. It's probably the case of many great/famous mathematicians, but I'm pretty sure also for many other contemporary mathematicians.
Just learn as much as you can, maybe you won't see any wall over your head before dying.
 
  • #29
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I would like to believe that all you need is hardwork. I'm not expecting to become the next einstein or euler or descartes. But i would like to know and assume if all you need is hardwork. Last term in grade 11 math class i had nothing coming in (i didn't know anything about algebra or isolating or even factoring. I didn't even know how to solve for b in a linear function.) but i really worked hard in that course. I woke up 6:25 every morning and got help from my grade 11 math teacher. I stayed after school to do more work and basically did math for 10 hours a day concentrated on that course. I know it seems like alot of time just for one course but hey, i needed it.

That math teacher (he only has a minor in math but he's an amazing person overall and that's what counts.) is sort of my mentor now. He believes hard work can triumph everything and i agree with him. But a couple of days ago, alot of the math staff told me upfront it was really hard to get a math degree and that alot of it is talent.

Also i would like to thank all of you for your motivational words. I know there is natural talent but i just wanted reassurance that math was more than just natural talent and hardwork. I don't care if i have to take 6 years to get my math degree. I will do it at my own pace. I don't want to get discouraged either. Eventually i will believe though that i will be the hare. As of now, i'm still the tortoise. Thank you =)
 
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  • #30
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I would like to believe that all you need is hardwork. I'm not expecting to become the next einstein or euler or descartes. But i would like to know and assume if all you need is hardwork. Last term in grade 11 math class i had nothing coming in (i didn't know anything about algebra or isolating or even factoring. I didn't even know how to solve for b in a linear function.) but i really worked hard in that course. I woke up 6:25 every morning and got help from my grade 11 math teacher. I stayed after school to do more work and basically did math for 10 hours a day concentrated on that course. I know it seems like alot of time just for one course but hey, i needed it.

That math teacher (he only has a minor in math but he's an amazing person overall and that's what counts.) is sort of my mentor now. He believes hard work can triumph everything and i agree with him. But a couple of days ago, alot of the math staff told me upfront it was really hard to get a math degree and that alot of it is talent.
Every study made suggests that those who believe that talent doesn't matter does better than those who do believe in talent, at least for middle school maths. The problem is that once it starts to be about college you have something to lose on it as well so it isn't always positive to do it since you might go further into a field you can't live on than necessary. But for now try to believe in it since it wont hurt you until you actually makes the decision. Make a mantra like "I can do it if I want to" or so.

Have you done calculus yet? See how that goes, if it turns out that you can get good grades in calculus I believe that you can get a maths degree without ruining your life at the same time but if it is a huge struggle you might want to rethink, but until then having doubts just hurts you.
 
  • #31
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Every study made suggests that those who believe that talent doesn't matter does better than those who do believe in talent, at least for middle school maths. The problem is that once it starts to be about college you have something to lose on it as well so it isn't always positive to do it since you might go further into a field you can't live on than necessary. But for now try to believe in it since it wont hurt you until you actually makes the decision. Make a mantra like "I can do it if I want to" or so.

Have you done calculus yet? See how that goes, if it turns out that you can get good grades in calculus I believe that you can get a maths degree without ruining your life at the same time but if it is a huge struggle you might want to rethink, but until then having doubts just hurts you.

Haha well i had that mantra going into grade 11 math but it was only because i have a mentor to guide me through. I now have two mentors (my brazilian jiu jitsu teacher and my grade 11 math teacher).

I am currently doing calculus now and getting murked. I'm not entirely sure if it's because i haven't taken grade 12 advance functions yet (the pre requesite course) or because it has a higher learning curve to it. I do believe though that i can master the highschool calculus course though. It really isn't that bad if i put more time into it. I'm just not used to the workload at the moment. I really like it too because it really adds another dimension to math in my opinion.
 
  • #32
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I really like it too because it really adds another dimension to math in my opinion.
That is a really sign! Then studying maths for real is doing this over and over and over and over etc. There is just so much to discover in maths that it is insane!
 
  • #33
So i was talking with 2 of my grade 12 math teachers. Both agreed that each individual person has their "ceiling" where they max out in terms of mathematical knowledge and advancement. This really got me discouraged because what's carried me through math was because i was always willing to work at it and work hard at it. So bottom line, is this really true? I'm scared because the only subject in school i like is math and anything math related. If i can't do this, i don't know what to do at all with my life. Or is all you need hardwork? I know a phd and masters is an exception but what i really just want is a regular math degree.
Answer this riddle and you'll know the answer to your inquisition :

The greatest genius of our time said which on of the following :

A) "Genius is 99% inspiration and 1% perspiration"

B) "Genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration"
 
  • #34
6,814
13
So i was talking with 2 of my grade 12 math teachers. Both agreed that each individual person has their "ceiling" where they max out in terms of mathematical knowledge and advancement.
I don't think it really works that way. My experience has been the limit is the amount of time and effort that you put into learning something. You don't have infinite amounts of time and effort so there is a ceiling in that sense.

Also the more you know, the more you know that the less you know. The difference between what I know and what I know I don't know has be increasing over time.
 
  • #35
6,814
13
Now, if you believe he wasn't naturally talented, you must therefore agree that Newton loved, or put more effort into his studies than anyone else in that era, which highly unlikely.
I think it's quite likely.

I think talent is *seriously* overrated. I do think that people have some differences in the ways that their brains work, but it's hard to correlate that with "math achievement". For example, I can handle differential geometry just fine, but I'm totally, totally dreadful at arithmetic or anything that requires memorization.

But saying that everyone processes information at the same speed and is equally creative as one another is ridiculous.
They don't, but some of us managed to figure out ways around are deficiencies rather than giving up. Personal, I think I do have a "natural talent" in that I tend to keep going at something after most people give up. I also have a talent for intellectual masochism.

There are people at my college who put in 3 to 4 times as much work as some students, attending workshops and staying after school while students constantly getting full marks are playing football or going out.
And actually I was one of those people that had to struggle a lot in college. Again, if I'm not struggling I get very bored, so I just keep working on something that keeps me from boredom. If I start getting A's in something I get annoyed, and I make the test harder so that I'm doing something I get barely passing grades in.
 
  • #36
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This thread is what I've been wanting to hear.

I've been leaning on the edge of physics for too long because I'm unsure of a ceiling that I'll hit when it comes to math.
 
  • #37
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So i was talking with 2 of my grade 12 math teachers. Both agreed that each individual person has their "ceiling" where they max out in terms of mathematical knowledge and advancement.
I don't buy statements like this. Years ago, I remember my high school math teacher stating that some people just can't learn calculus. Aside from people with mental disabilities, I think this statement is false. Average and below average people with no math ability can be taught the essentials of calculus with hard work and motivation on their part. That is, given a good teacher.

Also, consider that high school teachers have a talent for teaching more than they have a talent for the subject they teach, for the most part. There is nothing wrong with this, but it means that you need to keep an open mind and not accept everything they say as gospel. If you are motivated, you will likely surpass their math knowledge in a meager 4-8 years. Keep this in mind when you listen to their opinions.

Perhaps their statement should be redirected as, "each teacher has a lower limit (floor) on the talent level they can teach to".
 
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  • #38
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Oh yeah:

For all the young whipper-snappers out there who are unsure of themselves, read this:

http://terrytao.wordpress.com/career-advice/does-one-have-to-be-a-genius-to-do-maths/" [Broken]

It's written by a Field's Medal-winning mathematician named Terence Tao, a prof at UCLA. Given his history and what he's done in mathematics, his words carry a lot weight.

I have no idea how many times I've linked to his blog on PF! Ha.
 
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  • #39
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Now, if you believe he wasn't naturally talented, you must therefore agree that Newton loved, or put more effort into his studies than anyone else in that era, which highly unlikely.

You must also think that, because no-one is naturally talented, Rodger Federer has played more tennis than everyone else, or is more passionate for tennis than anyone else.
Yes I believe both of those. In fact, if you know anything about tennis you will know that this is absolutely true about Roger Federer. And from what I know about Newton is he devoted his entire life to his studies.
 
  • #40
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I only read the first page of this, so forgive me if I'm repeating what someone else said, but I agree that there is a "ceiling".

I was really good at maths in high school, but KNEW my level of knowledge and talent was nowhere near the kids at the top. I stupidly decided to major in maths at uni anyway. I don't know if it's true that anyone can get their bachelor's degree in maths... I got through my first two years with distinctions and high distinctions in maths (I think that's equivalent to As and Bs in the States), however, third year hit and I'm REALLY struggling.

Thank goodness this semester (my 5th semester out of 10) is my last doing maths. I'm moving on to statistics and finance after this. Not any easier, but definitely less abstract. *sigh*
 

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