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Why This Writer Feels Writers Should Learn Math


Simone Biles, Ava DuVernay, Kobe Bryant, poet laureates and story tellers, physical and visual expressionists with world class precision, of genres and forms, ad infinitum; and every day achievers, technically use math in some way on most days. That’s why I chose The New Yorker article Why Writers Should Learn Math for my College Math final Discussion Reflection. #mouthfull



As a writer who detested doing math, I needed clarity as to why writers should learn math. I felt I could possibly open my mind and accept math as a necessary (evil) language AND an art-form vs me continually blasting math as a useless glob of formulas with something missing that I must spend precious time to solve.


I’d already suspected what The New Yorker article alludes to- math’s musicology rhythm and flow -as a discipline. While I moved through the lessons and assignments of that course, I became keenly aware of a linguistic tempo that I did not realize from 10th grade algebra. Good grades were not to be for me in this course, even as I begin understanding spiritual things about math. But going through this course has made it easy for me to "get it." Even temporarily, due to short term memory issues, I now believe in the juxtaposition and usefulness of math and my own writing. 


I understand that as a writer, to embrace math, is to find where the similarities.   So in my due diligence for “The Language of Mathematics" (Burns, 2014) I discovered and now care for  these three characteristics of mathematics:   

  • precise (making very fine distinctions);
  • concise (able to say things briefly);
  • powerful (able to express complex thoughts with relative ease).

Wow. Could also read, three characteristics of writing.  I love it! And I appreciate this especially because there is nothing that suggests writers become mathematicians. It has become clear to me that by learning math, we might seek better writings to read, we might write better, and comprehend better. Nazaryan said it in the New Yorker article this way


..we will be able to filter out literature that is drowning in vagueness of language and theme. 


As a proud fifty-something Digital Cinematography student, I have (re)learned a way to think of and feel about math. Plus, these horrid, brain-blasting four weeks of math may have remediated some brain functioning for me as a TBI patient. Which was my goal when I enrolled in art school. 

And so it is, I feel like all  Entertainment Media and Emerging Technologies courses of my university that teach students to create something out of nothing require users to engage mathematically. And moving forward, I have an answer to the question of Why Writers Should Learn Math is- 


.... so we might be exquisitely intentional with “…algebraic deliberateness.”


Copyright, Jackie D. Rockwell



 Anyone can teach you about love. I can make you good at it.

| Photo & Prose by Jackie D. Rockwell |All Rights Reserved © 2008-2021 |