Why is math imposed on students

Math: School subject in awareness-raising

"What could we learn from mathematics?"


If we want to justify the subject "Mathematics" in its current form, then it is sufficient if we summarize everything we can do with it:

  • Where do numbers appear?
  • How do we have to calculate?
  • Which professions cannot be learned without a basic understanding of mathematics: baker, if he wants to bake a cake that is bigger than the recipe tells us. Or an architect, so that the house also stands.

If we want to widen our view and think about what exactly the children and young people could learn in math lessons - better than in other subjects and sometimes even only here - then we have to search for their soul. Anyone who ponders the usefulness of one of his tools would have to make himself the object of a brief thought experiment. From this perspective we can ask a far more interesting question:

What can we humans learn through mathematics in order to become better people?

“Better” not in a moral sense, but in an existential sense. What can all people - not only the mathematically gifted - learn from mathematics in order to develop themselves even better?


Mathematics has a lot in common with humans: It is capable of the highest and precisely for this reason it is also capable of causing the worst. It can destroy people and divide society into two classes. At the same time, it is also the most beautiful tool for those who research and search for the world of tomorrow.
The world of tomorrow: it doesn't just begin with your studies. Mathematics could already reach its top form in elementary school. Because it is much nicer than "discovering-the-world-with-your-help" when people discover and develop themselves with their help.

Personality development through awareness development

If mathematics is forced on children in school, with many pedagogical tricks and gimmicks, but without the slightest attempt to inspire the children for the subject as such, then in the worst case this leads to them not just not feeling like it Math, but that they generally lose interest in learning. Sometimes even all lust for life.

Interestingly, exactly the opposite happens when children suddenly find access to mathematics. Young people who lay on the benches without any energy in their eyes rather than actually being there, the life energy returns. You come from the last row to which you have withdrawn and want to discuss, ask questions.
It is not uncommon for this energy to radiate to all other subjects. Learning in general becomes interesting again. This newly discovered tension in life is sometimes even transferred to the way you deal with your own body: some of you will soon choose a sport that teaches you to get a grip on yourself again.


Math class isn't about numbers first. It's about the life of the children. It's not first about learning about someone else's past and about the world out there in the present. It's about your own future: about development and development.
To the unknown. About finding your way around your own ignorance. About bringing structure to chaos and formulating what one has no idea about. Mathematics can turn slaves into rulers in a world in which others hold the scepter.

Anyone who sees mathematics only as a collection of important lessons that we have to learn in order to find our way in this world has overlooked the most beautiful thing. Precisely because mathematics is so secure in itself; because it knows more clearly than any other discipline, it can teach us to be confident even when we are walking in the fog. It can teach to live in anticipation of reaching a goal. Maths class would be the place where our children - better than anywhere else - could learn about the future.

If this is our vision of math lessons, then it's not about knowledge that you have to understand in order to be able to do it, but about knowledge that you have to practice. Because when people turn their gaze from the past (knowledge) to the future (ignorance, research), then it is always about awareness. And awareness is not a switch that you “just” have to flip. As awareness grows, it is a never ending process.

In such math lessons, arithmetic would be second-order content. The children would learn to open their eyes, to observe, they would start to ask philosophical questions (Why is that?). Mathematics would turn people who want to know what to do into people who - as in the first years of life - are full of curiosity.


Not to be afraid, even if the path is in the fog: people have to practice this every day for 9, 10, 12 years. Because fear (or not) is a matter of the unconscious. It learns in tiny, triple steps.

Build self-esteem

Mathematics always has to do with self-confidence. Because if you don't understand math, ...

  • ... doubts himself;
  • ... thinks he's stupid; dumber
  • ... often struggles with school as a whole;

No other subject has such a dramatic effect on the self-confidence of many children. At the same time, no subject can restore self-confidence so quickly. Only here is healing faster than hurting.
Math teachers therefore have a very special responsibility. More than any other subject teacher, it must be important to them that the children and young people develop a positive relationship with their subject. Because this affects not only how you see the world, but also how you see yourself. How they are present in their world.

In mathematics class, bigger things are at stake than numbers and whether or not someone learns to calculate. We should therefore do everything possible to prevent her from being demoted to judge who is intelligent and who is not. We must oppose the formation of myths.

Learn learn

The heart of math is puzzle solving. Here people learn to leave well-trodden learning paths. Math is therefore inextricably linked with "learning-learning".
What other subject would learning-to-learn be more intimately connected with than with mathematics. More important than knowing what a root is, the children should learn all the ways to acquire knowledge. If math were to take care of the future as a school subject, “methodology” would be an integral, even a central part of the curriculum.
And it would not be enough for different paths to stand side by side without any judgment. The children should be able to discover how they themselves prefer to learn.


Mathematics must promote intelligence in every form. She must not take sides. And she has to hold herself by the nose again and again.

Preparing children for change and the future

The topics of the future and change have already been addressed. But it is not pure repetition if we approach these terms again:

Why is our world developing faster and faster? Because consciousness develops. Because more and more people (are able to) implement their ideas. Because it is getting easier and easier to find colleagues for your own ideas. Because today it is possible to overthrow a large corporation from the throne with just one good idea.
The world is not just changing. She does this faster every day, there is no doubt about that. To try to prepare children for the world of today would not only be short-sighted, but also nonsensical. Because the world of today is de facto always the past. If our children are to find their way around the world into which we will release them in a few years' time, we have to help them develop a positive relationship with change and the future. In which other subject would "future" be better placed as a learning content than in mathematics?


If we actually want all of this, then it's no longer just about personality and awareness. It's about whether tomorrow's adults will actively participate in shaping the future.
But ideas that change the world are in most cases born from a change of perspective. School mathematics that is not defined from the past by reducing it to arithmetic, but that places the heart of math in the middle, changes the way children see the world.
Because research has to do with uncertainty and with the future. Own future. Certainly: not everyone is born to be a researcher. But everyone is called to develop their lives further with their own hands and their own hearts.

If mathematics also influences one's own position in the world via one's attitude to the world, then it not only lays the basis for the knowledge necessary to later practice a profession that others defined, but it also teaches students to think about it who you want to be yourself in the world of tomorrow. Whether you might become an entrepreneur yourself and want to define your job and tasks yourself.
Understood in this way, mathematics also promotes young entrepreneurs. Not because every young entrepreneur has to be able to calculate. Even more than arithmetic, every young entrepreneur has to be able to imagine his own future. He must have courage and confidence in his own abilities. He must have vision and must remain calm when there is no well-trodden path at his feet.

As incredible as it sounds, we can learn all of this in math class. But only if we define mathematics as the structured, hopeful way of dealing with ignorance. If we therefore never make tasks too simple, but always so complex that everyone has to search. Also the class leader.
Math must always be a riddle if she wants to keep her treasure. Because no other science knows this last step, in which ignorance becomes knowledge, as precisely as mathematics. That moment, when someone turns the last corner and is suddenly faced with the solution, is addicting and is the reason why mathematicians love their subject so much.

Creation of a social unit within the class

The class community is not infrequently hurt in math lessons. The rift that arises here later runs across society. But this consequence could at best give rise to the demand to design math lessons in such a way that this does not happen.

But negative demands, that is, demands that are against something, have not often achieved their goal. Because just as strong as the conscious resistance to an evil is the unconscious resistance to change.
Much better than designing lessons that are supposed to avoid cracks are lessons that create unity. Unity on all levels. And this starts first in every single child's brain.


More than ever, it is clear to all those involved in the social game that the individual only ever has a (limited) view of things. Only many perspectives result in a more or less complete picture. In most subjects, unity comes from compromise and tolerance.
Knowing this could teach humility. Too often, however, it leads to everyone entrenching themselves in their own opinion: “Nobody has the whole truth and therefore nobody can tell me how things are or should be.” The call for tolerance leads to very sensitive people accepting this Demand for yourself and no longer let anyone tell you anything. Yes, even to the point that some claim the right to personal truth.

The mandate to the math class to create unity is not a pure reaction to the fact that the unity all too often suffers precisely because of and in math class. It grows from the very own potential that is in mathematics - and only in it. She can break this pattern better than anyone else. Because anyone who deals with math must always face the truth. This is exactly where the understanding that mathematics is basically just arithmetic has its origin.
No subject draws such a sharp line between right and wrong as mathematics. But in connection with the picture of the house or that of the tower that the students build every day from below, and in connection with tiny puzzle pieces, this dividing line leads to permanent judgment about the person and to the division of the community.

It would be completely different if mathematics were taught holistically. Are the pupils allowed to discover a big whole in school, one that is so big that no one can fully grasp it and that, unlike other big things, still has absolute knowledge; only mathematics would offer the possibility of a unity of path towards a common goal that actually exists.
Everyone can support one another on this journey. Some see it a little more sharply than others and can therefore help them. But everyone knows that even the primus never knows everything.

In view of the experience that there is indeed (mathematical) truth, we would have found a basis to introduce new future-oriented structures without the individual being able to understand this as an attack on his private freedom.

Enabling (actually) free career choice

One of the two most important tasks in a math class has always been preparation for the job. Of course, this goal remains in place.
At the same time, math lessons must not lead to young people categorically excluding any profession that has anything to do with math. If mathematics is the tool of the trade in so many professions, then lessons must be designed in such a way that every student can actually find access.

Currently, teaching math is making it easy for a very specific group of students and difficult for everyone else. Of those who can (can) think mathematically, only those who can understand inductively are addressed:

  • In other words, those for whom the detail gives enough intrinsic motivation to deal with it.
  • Those who do not depend on the teacher's enthusiasm for his subject, because they themselves carry enthusiasm that cannot be extinguished by anyone or anything. Enough enthusiasm that no violation of neuro-biological rules can break anything.

If we wanted to be fair, then we would have to offer different routes. In spite of all other assurances, there is currently only one path in the school, albeit in a hundred variants.

Unity of understanding (ratio) and feeling (emotion)

No school subject is more rational than mathematics. We are therefore of the opinion that we have to learn math from the ground up. Every little part individually. We have to understand every stone of this high tower, otherwise it will not stand.

The unconscious learns very differently than the human mind: It tries to recognize structures. In this way it wants to find out what it is dealing with. It jumps wildly back and forth between the detail and the whole. Before it can memorize the small parts, it has to see the big picture. As long as the unconscious (the animal) does not understand, it soon becomes transverse.

(School) mathematics suggests that it stands for everything that distinguishes humans in contrast to animals. This is all about people. And exactly here lies the problem. The animal still sits in the classroom.

Who has ever found out that some tutoring students only understand when the teacher stops talking and just does the math. Not just in one-to-one lessons. Even in class, students often learn many times faster if the teacher paints in silence on the blackboard. Without language and without explanations that address the mind.
Now the eyes can learn. Now the brain explains itself how it all works. Ten hours of lengthy explanations sometimes result in less than 10 minutes of speechless pre-exercise.

Anyone who claims that mathematics can only be learned with the mind is vastly wrong. More often than we thought, we can learn math much better with feeling. And when both start in a team, when the feeling gives the mind orientation: THEN the brain learns the fastest.
Mathematics offers - more than many other subjects - the opportunity to learn both: feeling and reason. Because the whole world always fits here - whether we draw it or calculate it - on a small piece of paper. Especially when it comes to mathematics, there is no doubt in the end. No two opinions about what is right or wrong. Both feeling and mind meet in one and the same result.

Mathematics is both at the same time: absolute knowledge and tools to help us feel our way into the dark.


Many beautiful properties make mathematics unique. And so the subject “Mathematics” could also be unique among all subjects. It could create unity where we tore the world apart. Society, but also ourselves.

If THAT was our goal, then we have to say goodbye to this one belief that says that when we learn we have to break everything down into its individual parts and then put it back together again when we learn. We are allowed to both - the world, but also ourselves - leave intact. Mathematics could teach us that there are two ways of understanding things. And that these two are not enemies, not opposites, but that they can complement each other wonderfully.

(Part 2 is currently being written and is aimed at students. That's why we're publishing it on our “Magic Maths” page, which is aimed at parents and students.)

Categories General, Blog