Week 5: What I've learned
It has been a summer full of learning, both mathematically and spiritually. I never dreamed there were such varied and useful applications of essentially the same mathematical ideas. Working within a single mathematical framework, A’CA, where
A and C are matrices defined for each situation but generally similar in structure and somewhat similar in content, we have learned how to solve problems in everything from trusses of civil engineering to Kirchoff’s laws of electrical engineering to statistical analysis to the springs of Hooke’s law (and the list goes on and on). I have barely scratched the surface of this unbelievable experience. I have never learned so much math in my life. I suppose the old saying is true: the more you know, the more you realize how little you know after all.
He states that the best way to run a government is to bring together people of the most diverse and opposing life experiences possible and have them learn from another. Not only is this the best way to run a country, but, he adds, the best
way to learn about yourself.
I have learned from living in Cambridge (indeed, in a dorm) that his words are wise and accurate. It is the subject of much internal debate which set of experiences has influenced me more, the professional or the personal. But what is beyond debate is that both aspects of my summer in Cambridge have changed, enriched, and enlightened me forever. I will definitely not soon, and probably not ever forget the time that I have had here.
I learned just how influenced I have been by the people around me. My grandmother used to have a favorite saying, “You are a citizen of Brooklyn (New York; my hometown).” I have truly become a citizen of the world. I have learned to value all people, and all sets of spiritual beliefs. IN this country after 9/11 there has been much malignment of certain religious practices and groups. I have found that in all societies and cultures there is good and bad, peace and violence, love and horror. In my own life, I have experienced much doubt about my own religious upbringing. I have found that there is good and bad in my own
religious background as well.
In my own religious background, terrible things have happened in my hometown. A fundraiser was held for a child molester, while his victim is ostracized. Girls can get expelled from school for having a facebook account. A stadium wide event was held on how to exclude the internet and technology from your home, no women allowed. Buses are gender segregated, with women in the back. Women are required to walk behind men, authors write books of daring and brave escapes from arranged marriages. But I have learned that there are good aspects of my religious heritage as well.
I have also discovered through my journey that there are many positive aspects to my religious backgrounds previously unknown to me. I have discovered the accomplishments of my heritage in science, mathematics and engineering. I have discovered that not all people of my faith subscribe to the tenets as presented to me when I was younger. I have found that most people of my religion are totally acccepting of me as a transgendered individual and are staunch supporters of women's rights. It has caused me to do a lot of rethinking about many things.
About the Blogger
Amy Beth Prager is a mathematics educator interested in outreach efforts. She is currently expanding her knowledge of mathematics, computer science and engineering.She is spending the summer in the mathematics department of MIT pursuing coursework in applied numerical methods; taking a class known as 18.085, Computational Science and Engineering. The course teaches methods of
applied mathematics useful in engineering and science.