One of my students recently said to me, "I'm not good at math because I'm really slow." Right then and there, she had voiced what is one of many misconceptions that folks have about math.
But friends, speed has nothing to do with one's ability to do mathematics. In particular, being "slow" does not mean you do not have the ability to think about, understand, or enjoy the ideas of math.
Let me tell you....
Last weekend, I spent seven (SEVEN!) hours trying to understand two-and-a-half (TWO-AND-A-HALF!) sentences of a page-long proof. (My brain just couldn't make it to the end of the third sentence.) And this past weekend, it took me two (TWO!) full days (DAYS!) to understand three (THRE--okay, I'll stop shouting) little equations.
But now I finally understand the proof, and now I know what those little equations really mean. Even better, I understand them both thoroughly because of (not in spite of) all those hours that I spent with them.
So, as I wanted to tell my student:
Who cares how long it takes you?
We can never focus on and enjoy the mathematical scenery around us if we're too busy concerned with racing our neighbors.
Don't forget, dear friends:
Speed is not equivalent to mathematical ability.
On a very related note, I am currently preparing for my oral exam*, so free time is a rarity these days. For that reason, I'm going to take a little break from blogging over the next few months. But I do hope to have lots of cool things to write about when my exam is over! In the mean time, I plan to continue sharing math-y things on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. See you in a few months!
*This means I'm learning about a specialized topic now, and will soon give an oral presentation (a seminar talk) in front of some faculty members. Afterwards, I'll be asked a bunch of questions about the topic to ensure I'm ready to move on to the dissertation stage of grad school. No pressure, really ;)