The Classical Difference

Classical Difference: Math

“Why do we have to learn this?”  “I’m never going to use this kind of math.” “My parent is not good at math, and I’m not either.” As a math teacher, I have heard these comments and many more, usually coupled with a downtrodden spirit. Granted, I am a “math person” who would happily solve equations just for the fun of it.  I find fulfillment in the logical and systematic approach to problem solving and satisfaction when my efforts produce verifiable solutions.  But when was the last time I used a quadratic equation or detected patterns using the Fibonacci sequence in my daily operations? Honestly, I cannot recall. So, why should we expect our children to learn Math? More importantly, why teach Math classically?

As we instruct our children, we have the responsibility to help them discover what is good, true, and beautiful. Galileo Galilei noted that “Nature is written in mathematical language.” Scripture describes the formation of Creation in an orderly, precise, and logical manner. The proportions of the physical substances that sustain us and very forces that hold our planets within orbit were perfectly designed by Him (Colossians 1:15-20). Scripture from Genesis 1:1 (ordinal numbers) to the final remarks of Revelation 22:18-19 (addition/subtraction) is peppered with mathematical references.  Therefore, Mathematics should not function as mere mental exercises, but serve as the stage in which relationships, patterns, and laws are brought to life, giving us an opportunity to engage with the principles that bring Him glory.

A classical approach to mathematics ignites the natural wonder and imagination of its scholars.  It allows them to marvel at its intricacies while fostering a posture of humility, joy, and wonder. Learners are challenged to think beyond the concrete figures and repetitive computation to interact with concepts that are abstract and difficult to process. Students begin to consider problems through a different lens. “What have a learned from past problems can be used to solve this one?” “How can we use reason to find a solution?” “Does this solution actually answer what was asked?” “What does God’s Word say about this?”

These techniques have implications across all areas of study and are utilized in everyday life.  These situations point us to God who has integrated all things (Ephesians 4:6) while demonstrating what is good, true, and beautiful. This is the very reason why we classically pursue the study of mathematics and must encourage the next generation to do the same.

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