1 Book, 1 Film, 1 Podcast: Maths
Oh, maths. It’s a very important subject that everyone needs to know about. But why is maths so crucial to your studies and day-to-day life? We use maths to organise and think on a regular basis, whether that’s to measure ingredients to bake a cake, figure out what time is best to catch a train, or create a budget for your monthly finances – numbers, equations, and algorithms are everywhere! We use all of these to understand the world more and more.
There are many reasons you’ll fall in love with maths. Not only is it a universal language, something you cannot say for a lot of subjects, but old concepts are as relevant as new ones. maths doesn’t leave anything to ambiguity, so if you are good at providing evidence and coming to conclusions, you’ll appreciate studying this subject.
Some may argue that maths is too difficult and boring. But this is far from the truth, without maths, we wouldn't be able to discover so many interesting things about this world. If you think about it, maths is a basic instinct to us, and everything around us. Bees do simple arithmetic to make honey and studies have shown that birds make calculations when flying. So, with the above reasons, it’s hard to disagree with schools making maths compulsory. It’s good for the brain and studying it will help you build up a high level of problem solving, critical thinking and creative skills. These skills complement most subjects, and you can use them in every career in some way. If you do well in maths, it will make you much more employable and universities will love it.
It’s very important that we continue building our mathematical skills and learn about the influences that maths can make. See our recommendations on a book, film, and podcast to find out more about how maths is an enriching subject you can use in your day-to-day life.
Book: Maths Girls, 2011, by Hiroshi Yuki
Learning mathematics, you might think its more textbook work and past papers. Hiroshi Yuki’s unique novel, Maths Girls, shows us how this does not have to be the case. Yuki combines creative writing with mathematical concepts, to help people find a real interest in the subject. The way the characters in the book look and think about maths is very interesting. So, if you’ve ever been on the cusp of wondering if maths was right for you, this book can really help you fall in love with the subject again.
The story is told through three students learning to deal with maths problems from their textbook. It successfully explores and explains various interesting and complicated mathematical theories including enumeration, zeta functions, divergent sequences and more. The approach to complicated topics is fresh, and provides explanations that you wouldn’t find in any old textbook. This can help students understand concepts that they may have been struggling with in class. A nice touch that the book gives us is that maths doesn’t have to be studied alone, the three friends the story centres arounds demonstrate that maths is best as a shared experience.
Film: The Story of Maths, (four-part series) BBC
The Story of Maths, educates us on the important points in the history of mathematics. It is co-produced and presented by University of Oxford professor Marcus du Sautoy, and is a four-part documentary series that covers diverse topics including the Eastern origins of mathematics, the universal nature of maths, the explosion of mathematical discoveries in Europe by the 17th century as well as the key issues that 20th century mathematicians dealt with. Sautoy travels around the world, talking to other academics, in search of answers. So, if you want to find out exactly why maths is so important in both the past and present. Or maybe you’ve wondered about a few specific concepts, such as why the number zero was created. This will be a good series for you to get stuck into. Sautoy has a powerful way of inspiring and showing people how important maths can be.
Podcast: The Secrets of Mathematics, University of Oxford Podcast
A podcast created by the University of Oxford to show students the beauty of maths. It features talks from academics, like our presenter above, who explain fascinating issues. In one interesting episode David Sumpter argues that while maths can make you rich, it also makes you a better person. In another, Ingrid Daubechies looks at joy, creativity and beauty in maths. This is a great podcast for anyone interested in maths, but one of the stand out reasons why we enjoy this podcast so much is that it's great for students of other subjects too. It explains maths’s role in other fields of study, so if you are thinking about studying Medicine or Economics there are some fantastic episodes on this podcast specific to you. Podcasts like this one are fantastic for students who want to prove they have an interest and passion for mathematics in their university applications too.
Khan Academy - this website provides useful learning resources such as maths videos and exercises. Students can track their progress, and select their level on the site too. It's easy to navigate and its maths content has been created with help from important institutions such as NASA and The Museum of Modern Art.
Math is Fun - a useful resource for young learners who want to make maths a bit more engaging. The site has an extensive range of puzzles, games, quizzes and more to keep students entertained.
MyMaths - covers the UK curriculum from Key Stage 1 to A-Level. It offers lots of resources and games to help students boost their grades in maths. Students can be assigned homework and worksheets on here too.
Maths Genie - Maths Genie is a great hub for past papers, topic breakdowns, revision timetable templates and a host of other useful resources in the run-up to exams. Whether you’re doing your GCSEs or A-levels, this is the site for you.
Mathsaurus - our favourite page on Mathsaurus is its 'books' section, which offers numerous recommendations if you're hoping to read up on Maths in your spare time. Resources are listed by level, so whatever stage you're at in your education, you're sure to find some great material to plunge into.
I'm a Puzzle - If equations are exhausting you and you just can't stomach learning another formula that day, why not relax with a puzzle? I'm a Puzzle offers plenty of - you guessed it - puzzles to give you a break from the hardcore stuff while still nourishing your logic-loving brain.