dy/dx again!

Why won’t differential equations leave me alone?

I first stumbled on the equation above in secondary school in further mathematics, I didn’t get the point of it. It was just some traumatic equation sent from hell’s school to stress me.

Well, thank God further mathematics wasn’t compulsory so you know what I did? I dropped further maths like a hot potato- you bet I did!

I got to final year (SS3) and started preparing for JAMB, when I heard the sad news that JAMB mathematics exam was drawn from the curriculum for further mathematics, I was very confused.

Please help me explain this; Further Mathematics is not compulsory as a subject in school, Mathematics is compulsory for the JAMB exam but the JAMB maths exam is simply made up of further maths items?

Can you begin to understand the confusion in that education system?

Anyways, I needed to pass JAMB and so, my mum got me a lesson teacher, he covered most of the JAMB maths past questions and I learnt some basic differential equations. In my mind, it was going to be the last time I had to deal with that bad news.

You guessed right, I was wrong! As an undergraduate student, dy/dx reared its head again. I patched through once more. But Imagine my fury when I reached England and this die hard equation turned up!

Wait a minute, what was the point of all the playing smart and the cutting corners? I was never going to get read of differential calculus. Why didn’t anybody tell me that I needed this thing to help me learn the rest of my schooling days? I would have settled down to learn it when they were still teaching it with very basic vocabulary. What a waste!

And when it gets to post graduate level, they assume you have learnt all the underlying principles and nobody is going to waste time dumbing down anything for your sake.

How can we change this mentality of learning just to pass exams in our education system? How can we help young people realize that they should be learning to learn? That the things they are learning today are the building blocks on which their future learning will be based on?

I believe some of the problems are due to the way the materials might have been taught in the first instance, that gives the learner a negative perception about the topic and therefore he/she starts to look forward to the end of that year, with the hope that the topic never comes up again.

However, with the proper information and motivation, we can inspire people to imbibe the culture of lifelong learning.

Wiki defines lifelong learning as "ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated" pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons”.

I only started learning this way not too long ago, and I'm still learning. I realized there was so much more I needed to know. And knowing how it was going to help me in my job and the quality of my conversations was the driving motivation. Signing up for courses, watching YouTube videos, doing an extra reading here and there because I knew the difference it could make.

My two cents on this is this; - Dear young person, think of the many ways you could potentially use what you are currently learning, how it will make you smarter and more knowledgeable. Think of learning as a life-long investment in yourself, that can open different opportunities to you. As you see the learning process differently, your mind begins to open up and you become more motivated and you learn even better.

Even when the teacher hasn’t done a very good job of presenting the material, can you find the motivation to try and learn it yourself? Ask questions and probe further?

Parents and educators, please tell that grade two student that she will need multiplication the rest of life and she shouldn’t learn it for grade two alone. And when the teacher stops at 12 times tables, encourage her to keep learning up to the 19th, how about her prime numbers she'll need it beyond grade 3.

Please tell that economics undergraduate who doesn’t see the point of the sociology and psychology lecture he has to attend, that, one day as an employee or employer, he might be faced with a discussion of one of Sigmund Freud's theories, and he’ll be expected to contribute somewhat to the discourse.

Lifelong learning is important and can improve our understanding and appreciation of the world we live in. Beyond one's field of specialization, it helps us become more well-rounded individuals, and can improve the quality of our lives. There's only so much that can be taught within the four walls of a classroom!

Technology has made the process of lifelong learning easier, the question now is what are you using your technology for?