Hello, Internet! Cole here. I’ve been rather busy lately, and not always with things I think are worth writing about. I’ll be sure to write about something new soon. In the meantime, I’ve compiled a few short essays I wrote recently. Hopefully, they’ll provide a bit more insight into the way I think.
On My Precalculus Class, Which Transformed My Understanding.
In my sophomore year of high school, I discovered that my understanding of mathematics was essentially wrong. This is not to say I didn’t understand the basics of math; I could add, multiply and solve quadratic equations easily, and in fact, I enjoyed the practice. However, I believed that math was essentially rigid and mechanical in nature – an understandable conclusion, given the algorithmic and sequential classes I had taken before. It was only through my Precalculus class that I began to appreciate the true depth, breadth, and complexity of the field.
Our instructor was Dr. P., a former university professor with a doctorate in mathematical philosophy. His teaching style was a mixture of high school and college; he would give us assignments in class, typical for high school, but he also emphasized college-style lectures and administered “gateway” quizzes that students had to take outside of class. Compared to the school’s other math classes, his was the hardest; but he also provided extra credit and graded on a logarithmic curve.
In that class, I learned that the same math problem could be solved using different methods, some faster and simpler than others. The question of math changed from “How do I solve this?” to “What is the easiest way to solve this?” – and the answer often required creative thinking, which was the last thing I’d expected to see in math. I also learned that, far from being completely unified, mathematics was divided into fields like set theory, linear algebra, and topology, with the only common thread being what I had learned up to that point.
I don’t know if a math class can be considered “a source of inspiration”. Nor do I care. Precalculus transformed my understanding of what math was about. That’s all that matters to me.
My Favorite Word
In terms of practicality, my favorite word is probably the adverb “thus.”
On a surface level, it makes what I write sound smarter, much like the words “therefore”, “notwithstanding”, and “sesquipedalian”. If overused, of course, it can make my writing seem fake; but used judiciously it can really add voice to a manuscript.
I am not so much interested in the word’s appearance, however, as I am in its versatility. “Thus” can mean “in this manner”, e.g. “he did it thus”; it can mean “consequently or accordingly”, e.g. “he slept in, thus he was late”; and it can mean “to this extent”, e.g. “thus far”.
It doesn’t express as many different concepts as some other words, of course – the word “set” defeats it in that contest by a wide margin – but the concepts it does express are very useful for connecting ideas, and thus for writing, of which I do a fair amount. In fact, I believe that “thus” can and should be used at least once in any major piece of English writing.
Admittedly, I may overuse the power of “thus” at times. When I need to ensure that one sentence flows smoothly into the next, I often resort to sneaking the word into a proper-seeming place, and sometimes I am not sure whether it works in the given context. I’ve never been called out for using it incorrectly yet, though, and thus I can infer that most of my usage has been correct.
I’ve written about all that needs to be said about “thus” at this point, and thus I will end this essay here. Thank you.
I have written several more essays of similar style, as well. If you’re interested in reading more like this, please leave a comment saying so. Thanks for reading, Internet, and I’ll be seeing ya’!