Pupils answer: “what is mathematics?”

At the start of the school year I have asked all my classes the following question: “what is mathematics?”. I didn’t expect much, but I was curious what children of ages 11 – 14 think about this. From my point of view this question doesn’t have an exact answer yet. There are still many mathematicians and philosophers that try to find an answer. Let us see what my pupils have answered:

S1 (11-12 years old): 

  • “Mathematics is when u would do either addition, subtraction, division & multiplication and u would end up learning more of them and u can add with any amount of numbers”
  • ” using different strategies to help you”
  • “fun”
  • “learning about numbers”
  • “maths is when u use adding division multiplying subtraction”

S2 (12-13 years old): 

  • “numbers and maybe some letters”
  • “Math is to do with numbers.”
  • “Mathematics is working out, problem solving and equations.”
  • “number/digits, adding, subtracting, division, multiplication, a sum leading to an answer/conclusion”
  • “a bunch of numbers and stuff”
  • “equations – it’s interesting”

S3 (13-14 years old): 

  • “to do number work that is fun and challenging”
  • “Maths is solving problems and using characters.”
  • “Mathematics is Maths”
  • “Mathematics is a subject where you study the use of numbers.”
  • “The study of numbers + problem solving”
  • “mathematics is the study of numbers, equations and other things like that”
  • “maths is the study of numbers and problem solving”
  • “Mathematics is working with numbers”
  • “Maths is a subject that numbers are involved in. Maths includes figuring out problems and equations.”
  • “Maths is a subject where you do things with numbers. It can be easy and difficult.”
  • “Numbers, shapes”
  • “Solving problems and using letters, numbers, formulas”
  • “Maths has a huge variety”
  • “Math is a subject that includes numbers and different equations that requires problem solving skills to find the answer”
  • “numbers shapes angle fraction”
  • “Maths is a subject based on numbers & equations, it will help us in normal everyday situations”

S4 (14-15 years old):

  • “mathematics is full of numbers and equations. the better mark you achieve in this subject, the more options you have when you’re and adult”
  • “Mathematics is Maths”
  • “Mathematics is numbers”
  • “Mathematics is ×, ÷, =, – , +”

S5/S6 (15 – 17 years old): 

  • “Maths is about numbers and angles”
  • “Numbers & letters”
  • “Numbers letters calculations”
  • “maths is to do with numbers and equations”
  • “problem solving”
  • “mental abuse to humans”
  • “maths is a class that you learn about number skills”
  • “I would describe maths as a subject so fun I failed it just to do it again”

My S5/S6 and S4 were the classes where most of them refused to give any answer to the question, while S1 was the class with the most identical answers. I think the S3 are the ones that gave some of my favorite answers. What do you think? Which is your favorite answer?

Hope you enjoy this short post. Let me know what you’ve been up to in the past month. Have a great day. You can find me on Facebook,  Tumblr,  Google+,  Twitter   and  Instagram. I will try to post there as often as possible.

Lots of love and don’t forget that maths is everywhere! Enjoy!


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