Letters to the Editor

Safety in pride and Mathematics in perspective

Safety in Pride

Re: “Pride week undergoing expansion”

Dear Editors,

I would like to believe that in a university community as intellectually driven, accepting and home to such a diverse student population, that homophobia would have no place among our students here at Queen's. However, I am sadly mistaken. As I sat in my global development first-year lecture, mindlessly scrolling through my twitter account, I was shocked at what was in my feed. A fellow queens student, a male, had posted a picture of the pride flag flying among the ivy-covered buildings of Queen's campus. The caption under the picture read ‘are you kidding me?’ and the student proceeded to discuss his disdain toward the homosexual population with another Twitter account.

While pride week and its efforts have undeniably benefited and contributed greatly to the Queen's student body regarding awareness and acceptance of the active gay and lesbian population, there is clearly still much to be done. I believe that the emphasis needs to be put on targeting the homophobia that is still very much present among the student body. With every ‘that’s so gay’ or ‘he’s such a fag’ to be heard, it is apparent that this generation is not getting the message. These future doctors, lawyers, educators and business men and women, are participating in a new form of racism. Today, I sit in class learning about such racism, discrimination and the horrors that were a reality among the human race in the past. However, I cannot help but to think that homophobia is simply the same ignorance, the same inhumanity, simply directed at a new group.

As a sibling of a homosexual individual, the pain of those words ‘Are you kidding me?” attached to the pride flag was a very difficult thing to see. I never expected to encounter this blatant disrespect for another human being and this ignorance in an environment that prides itself on producing the leaders of tomorrow. I was forced to ask the question, how far have we really come?

Jessica Shissler, ArtSci ’16

Mathematical Perspective

Re: “The rule-breaking numbers game”

As one of the 20-30 or so fourth year mathematics majors at the school, I was rather excited to see an article in the Journal on the subject. It was an interesting read. I appreciate Sebastian’s words, yet feel that some of the points brought up lacked a math students’ perspective.

When I mention to a person that I study math, the most common response I hear is “Oh, I could never do math.” Your article mentions people’s lack of confidence in their mathematical ability, which is true; however, another prominent issue at hand is the misunderstanding of what mathematics truly encapsulates. What the first-year students interviewed portray as ‘mathematics’ is a small sliver of the true scope of math; the tip of the mathemagical iceberg, if you will. Unfortunately, many students get tripped up and bogged down with these calculations and computations. They focus on solutions, rather than the processes. However, it’s in the methods where the beauty of mathematics manifests itself.

It is a pity that most students give up on the prospect of math before they even get a taste of its wonderful and intricate complexities. Mathematics is all about the “Aha!” moments. The beauty of mathematics is in the thinking and reasoning it provokes. There’s nothing quite like the process of confronting a tough problem, struggling through it, and finally making a breakthrough. What excites me is the prospect of picking apart the layers of a problem; taking a scenario and look at it from multiple angles. Formulaic methods don’t always work, and you must tap into critical thinking.

There’s an appreciation that develops through discovery - through creating and critiquing approaches and strategies. It’s a fascinating expedition involving the analysis of different perspectives, inside and outside the box thinking, and often throwing, intuition out the window for something better. A mathematician just looks like he spends the afternoon merely leaning back at his desk chair and thinking. And that’s exactly what he’s doing. But what you don’t realize is that there’s an explosion going on in his brain. That’s the type of exciting math is.

I understand the frustration that students experience when encountering tough problems – I’ve spent many a night myself puzzling over seemingly impossible questions. But like many obstacles in life, these should not deter a person from proceeding forward.

We all have different strengths. For instance, I am decently okay in problem solving, but am not so great at writing. Yet everyone has the capacity to learn math. As a future educator myself, it is unfortunate to hear that a fellow teacher candidate interviewed in your article has such limited aspirations for his students with respect to high school math education. As alluded to by Professor Taylor, a students’ mathematical futures are influenced in part by the foundations established. This is most notably determined by the quality and influence of their teachers. I personally am not innately good at mathematics, but have had many inspiring mathematical role models in the past who have encouraged me along.

I think math will continue to be a challenge for students. I, for one, have just begun to discover the wonders of this exciting world. But I encourage others to dare to look at mathematics in a different light. I think they’ll be surprised at the exciting mysteries they discover.

Kristen Chen, ArtSci ’13 and BEd ’14

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