January 9th, 2012, 03:44 PM  #1 
Newbie Joined: Jan 2012 Posts: 4 Thanks: 0  Confused
Hello! I find studying math in university (Which is where I study, but not in the department of mathematics) very boring and slow because of that. I cant keep myself interested on just doing and passing tests. I don't mean to bash university, but I don't think the way of learning there is very good (at least for me). You learn to know certain things but not to understand anything. Its a bit complicated and I cant find all the words to describe everything, at least for now that I have to go sleep. When I study and investigate math by myself I find it very fascinating, great fun and I like to do it a lot. I try to find new things and explore in the world of math. Also I feel I have got forward quite a bit in my "own studies and investigations". So the problem is that I have deep passion towards mathematics and I actually wish to become some kind of math researcher. Same time I just cant get along on the normal studies in the university and go forward there as well. All I would want to do is study math. Any ideas what to do? 
January 9th, 2012, 04:33 PM  #2 
Global Moderator Joined: Oct 2008 From: London, Ontario, Canada  The Forest City Posts: 7,958 Thanks: 1146 Math Focus: Elementary mathematics and beyond  Re: Confused
Start answering questions (the ones that interest you) here on the forum! As for the university, I suggest you just try and get through it as best you can; if you want to become some kind of research mathematician, you will probably need some kind of degree. I've had similar experiences (I am a student) with classes, but I just try to pay as much attention as I can and remember that it is all for a greater good  getting a math degree and the level of knowledge that goes with it!

January 9th, 2012, 09:05 PM  #3  
Senior Member Joined: Apr 2011 From: USA Posts: 782 Thanks: 1  Re: Confused Quote:
I'd hate to see you just trudge through all your math courses like this and have to do all the fun stuff outside of class. Have you spoken to anyone? Are you allowed to study independently? Are the classes outside the math department different? I mean, do you have math classes that are in another department that are taught differently? (That's the only interpretation I can make of your comment.) If so, can you take them within the math department? Are these still basic level classes? Sometimes the basic stuff can be boring if it's something you are good at  cause the general population has to take them. And then when you get to higher level classes within your major, they become more interesting (and perhaps have better instructors). So it may just be a matter of dealing with it until you get to a higher level. After all, all college experiences include classes we dislike or that bore us.  
January 9th, 2012, 11:05 PM  #4 
Math Team Joined: Jul 2011 From: North America, 42nd parallel Posts: 3,372 Thanks: 233  Re: Confused
The best way to learn is to be shown examples. Show me how to do the problem...then change the numbers and see if i can get the result. That would be teaching. Unfortunately, professors (and tutors) are too lazy to work examples for the student. Unfortunately, most books on the level of abstract algebra and above demand too much from the reader, solutions manuals with fully worked out solutions are not easily available to the learner, who struggles to comprehend methods that are 'trivial' to the experts. This has been my experience: professors don't know how to teach learners and mathematicians don't know how to write books for nonexperts. Solutions are closely gaurded, and many times on an exam the student is asked unfair questions only experts understand. The goal of universities seems to be...find geniuses and challenge them, not teach mathematics. They mislead the public, who go there under the impression that knowledge will be disseminated fairly Universities have gotten very fat over the years and are run more like businesses instead of learning institutions. The intelligence of the student means nothing to them, if the students do well, the professors make the tests harder, if the students do poorly, they 'curve' the grading. This clearly shows where the universities true interests lie, to conserve and perpetuate a competitive nature among students whose parents are not on the board of directors. I apologize for all the negativity, but that's how i see it. Here's one thing that you can do, try to find books that are easy for you to understand. Many Barnes & Noble have excellent math books, and cafe's. They let you take the book into the cafe, you drink your beverage and read the book, if you like it you buy it. I have bought many books from them in this way, they are better than your local library. Your local library is also a good place to check out books. When you get stuck you can use the internet and math forums for help, there are many people out there happy to provide assistance. One final recommendation...Schaums Outlines...hundreds of fully worked out examples. You can find many at your local Barnes & Noble. 
January 10th, 2012, 06:43 AM  #5  
Global Moderator Joined: Nov 2006 From: UTC 5 Posts: 16,046 Thanks: 938 Math Focus: Number theory, computational mathematics, combinatorics, FOM, symbolic logic, TCS, algorithms  Re: Confused Quote:
It's true that many math books are written poorly  it's actually very hard to make them accessible. But the point stands regardless. Quote:
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January 10th, 2012, 07:48 AM  #6  
Newbie Joined: Jan 2012 Posts: 4 Thanks: 0  Re: Confused
Thank you for all the replies! You all made good points. I was thinking if there was any alternative way of studying math and later on getting some kind of income from it. But of course you must have degree anyways. I think I just have to move my ass to the department of mathematics and move forward there. Its the only way. Quote:
At the moment I'm actually studying math in a university that is 100% for master of science so I would need to change university as well, in order to get to the math department. I like to use my imagination a lot, trying to find out new things of things I have just learned, and then going even further from there, it could be thought as a bit crazy. My dream is that I could study and investigate math by myself as a hermit and be able to feed myself same time, hehe. If I were rich I wouldn't have any problem. I would continue as I have to this day, but since I'm not rich the future doesn't look so bright. Of course money solves problems of almost all people hehe. I hope I made myself a bit more clear, but please feel free to make sharp and even offensive questions and comments. I don't mind you being offensive at all. It could be helpful. I don't feel I have opened or revealed everything necessary regarding this issue to you. I hope to get some clarity on my mind from this thread.  
January 10th, 2012, 08:12 AM  #7  
Global Moderator Joined: Nov 2006 From: UTC 5 Posts: 16,046 Thanks: 938 Math Focus: Number theory, computational mathematics, combinatorics, FOM, symbolic logic, TCS, algorithms  Re: Confused Quote:
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January 10th, 2012, 09:33 AM  #8  
Newbie Joined: Jan 2012 Posts: 4 Thanks: 0  Re: Confused Quote:
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Now the reason why I say that I feel myself being a very different learner is because I study and learn by exploring and using imagination. If someone says me "This is that and that is this. Remember it in the exam." I will not be using my imagination or exploring anything and I will be extremely bored compared to the other way I study, learn and investigate math. I have studied lot of math by myself (As I have mentioned) that is not at this moment very relative to the math I have studied in the university. So I just got this thought that maybe I will easily pass exams in the math courses when my own studies happen to be more of those in the exams. Then I would have done it "my way".  
January 10th, 2012, 09:46 AM  #9  
Global Moderator Joined: Nov 2006 From: UTC 5 Posts: 16,046 Thanks: 938 Math Focus: Number theory, computational mathematics, combinatorics, FOM, symbolic logic, TCS, algorithms  Re: Confused Quote:
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You can deal with this by finding something that makes the material more relevant to you (this will be personal, what works for me wouldn't be likely to work for you), by 'gritting your teeth' and learning it anyway (which works, but is not conducive to building intuition), or by dropping the class and taking one that you find more appealing. Of course if it's a key required class like real analysis this might require a change of major! Quote:
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January 10th, 2012, 12:05 PM  #10  
Newbie Joined: Jan 2012 Posts: 4 Thanks: 0  Re: Confused
Thank you for your reply again. Quote:
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