Five Scary Myths about Mathematics

There are a lot of wrong myths about mathematics. These wrong myths make people feel allergy and afraid with mathematics. As a consequence, they don’t like mathematics. In other side, most of students get bad score for this lesson. This is not because of they can’t to do, but because from the first time they have heard many scary myths about it. So they become lazy to learn mathematics. From many of those myths, there are five myths that have made negative perception about mathematics. Those are: Mathematics is a difficult lesson, Mathematics is a memorized science that consists of a lot of formula, Mathematics is always related with the speed of counting, Mathematics is an abstract science which doesn’t relate with real life, and mathematics is a bored science.




The first myth is Mathematics is a difficult lesson. People think that only few people/students who have certain number of IQ (Intelligence Quotient) who are able to understand mathematics. This is wrong myth. Though mathematics is not the easiest lesson, but actually mathematics is easier than others. As an example, we can see the comparation question for sixth grade students in elementary school. First question is “Mention 3 kinds of traditional dance from Central Kalimantan?”. Second question is “A circle is divided by 3 sections which have comparation of each central angle is 2:3:4. Count the number of each central angle from the sections?”.


In fact, the presentation of students who can answer the second question is bigger than the presentation of students who can answer first question. It shows us mathematics is not a difficult science. If they feel difficult, that is because of they don’t understand well about the concept of number and measurement when they’re in elementary school. If they can understand the concept well, mathematics will be interesting and make us fun.

Second myth is Mathematics is a memorized science that consists of a lot of formula. This myth makes students feel lazy to learn mathematics, and finally they do not understand anything about it. Truly, mathematics is not a memorized science, because without understanding the concept, the formula that they have memorized before will not be useful.

The example question is, “Andi assembles a machine six hours longer than Anto. If they do it together, they can assemble the machine in four hours. How long does Anto need the time to assemble the machine by himself?”. Students who memorize a formula of square equation can’t answer that question if students are not able to change it in a formula of square equation, too. Actually, we only need (but do not must) to memorize few formula. The important is we have to understand the concept.

Third myth is Mathematics is always related with the speed of counting. So, if there is a student who can solve mathematics’s problem fastly, other students appraise him/her as a clever student and he/she has a talent in mathematics. That is wrong perception. It is turned up from the method of mathematics learning in school (Iwan Pranoto, Mathematics’s lecture in Bandung Institute of Technology). Counting is a part that can’t be separated from mathematics, especially in elementary school. But the most important skill in mathematics is understanding the concept, not counting fastly. By understanding the concept, we will able to do an analysis about the problem then we can change it to a model of mathematics equation. If the problem or question has been presented in a model of mathematics equation, we have just needed the counting skill. But it is not as an absolute thing to do by ourselves, because now there are a lot of supporting tools which can help us to count, such as calculator and computer. We will be able to count easily. So, the right myth is Mathematics always relate with understanding and logical reasoning.

Fourth myth is Mathematics is an abstract science which doesn’t relate with real life. This myth is wrong, because in fact mathematics is very realistic. It means that mathematics is an analogy from our real life. In this world, we can’t be separated with mathematics. Realize or not, we use it everyday in our life. Every activity that we do also use mathematics. The simply example is a solution from Leonhard Euler, France mathematician, about the problem of Konigsberg Bridge. Besides that, most in all sectors (technology, economics, social, etc) mathematics has a significant role. An intelligent robot which is able to think, contains a program called Expert System. It is based on fuzzy mathematics. An aerodynamics planes counting and GPS’s concept are also based on mathematics; goniometry and calculus.

The last myth is mathematics is a bored science. This opinion is really wrong. Though the answer or result of mathematics problem feels so exact because it only has one answer, but it makes a comfortable and certainty. The method or ways to get that answer are various. So, mathematics is not bored. There are a lot of ways to solve mathematics problem. It is known as open-ended problem. Our effort to solve the problem can make us be more creative, because we can create the method and use it as long as we are able. It is very useful for us. One of the implementation is if they face a problem in their life, they can take many ways to solve it and they can improve their responsibility.


Many examples are: to find the solution or answer from two mathematics equations, we can use three methods; substitution, elimination, and graphic. To prove the truth of Pythagoras theorem, we have 17 ways (Bana G. Kartasasmita, mathematician). The easiest example is to get ‘4’ as an answer we can use many ways, such as 1+3, 2+2, 3+1, etc.

Besides that, mathematics is also recreative. It makes us happy. Albert Einstein said that ‘mathematics is the first weapon in formulating the concept of relativity’. That’s very popular in science worlds. Einstein liked mathematics when his uncle explained about mathematics’ process which almost same with a detective, person who he had liked since he was child.
The process of mathematics is like a game. Firstly, we must identify variables that we used. After that, we can do the operation. We are free to do a trick as long as we want till we are able to find the right answer. This freedom is challenging and it also has a preoccupation itself. Because of that, we don’t have to surprise if we find student who do mathematics happily alone.


All of those myths have made wrong and scary opinion about mathematics. Students are also afraid to learn mathematics. Actually, mathematics is an easy science and interesting, because of that everyone is free to learn mathematics. No one who can’t learn it. So, our duty is broke those scary myths about mathematics. Start it from ourselves! Then we can prove to others and say the myths are wrong.

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