05. The Duality of a Double Major

tldr: educational intersectionality is where it’s at

I was a well-rounded nerd growing up. Finding me without a novel in hand was the equivalent of seeing pigs fly, and I deeply fell in love with mathematics.

Once I found out that multiplication was repeated addition I was off to the races, constantly adding numbers to learn my multiplication facts. (Turns out, good number sense makes high school algebra ten times easier.) It was really easy to do well in these subjects with the family I grew up with. I had a parent who was training to be an English teacher, tearing my fourth-grade essays to shreds. And, my sibling who was four years ahead of me, taught me how basic algebra was just essentially just arithmetic with letters. They taught me how to do the Gauss-Jordan elimination method for matrices (while it sounds complicated, it is truly just a puzzle to a kid who doesn’t know what a matrix really is). I was hooked on learning.

However, at a certain point, liking both of these subjects seemed to feel unacceptable? Almost as though, middle school is the fork in the road for Humanities vs STEM majors. Novels became maths textbooks, and lined paper became graph paper. I slowly grew into that facet of my identity. And I am glad I did! Mathematics became a subject where I wasn’t afraid to fall and get back up again. Furthermore, it is so much *easier* to want to learn a subject well when you know that one day you want to teach it. 

If I hadn’t leaned into the academic rigor of this specific subject, I would not have pushed for such an aggressive course load. I would have to be ignorant to not accept the fact that loving mathematics opened up many, many doors for me. I became the go-to student to help grade assignments for the freshmen algebra class. I became an active member of a mathematics problem solving group. My senior year, I was able to work 19 hours a week as a tutor at the local college. (Over the last year I have tutored for the Introduction to College Algebra, Trigonometry, and Single Variable Calculus classes.)

I know there are many moving parts when it comes to who gets accepted into a university. And, while I may never know for certain, I have to imagine that my passion for mathematics was one of the main factors that led to me being accepted to MIT.

But only taking maths classes just made me feel empty. Critically-thinking about numbers and integration is fun, but it is vastly and fundamentally different in comparison to carefully choosing the right words to express an argument or write a poem. 

That is why in my spring semester of senior year I took a class called Symbolic Logic. I was told (rightfully so) that it is one of the most mathematical humanities classes I could take. This class is interestingly enough, a Philosophy class, in which one deconstructs arguments to their basic components, and figures out whether or not they are valid. It is one of my all time *favorite* classes. In my opinion, it is the bridge between mathematics and the humanities, without which no mathematical statement would ever truly matter. And after taking this class, I have decided that for my mental well-being, and to be an overall more well-rounded student, I want to continue to explore the realm of philosophy. (Specifically in the field of epistemology (the study of knowledge) and the philosophy of language.)

I know realistically that this may change. That the majority of Prefrosh say they want to double major. And I am open to that chance. But, there is no amount of words to describe how finding Philosophy was just like discovering multiplication was just repeated addition. I am off to the races.


Published by Paige Bright

Hi- my name is Paige Alexandria Bright. I am a rising junior at MIT interested in mathematics and philosophy. I have been writing this blog since the beginning of COVID. Lets see where this goes.

6 thoughts on “05. The Duality of a Double Major

  1. I am so so so so glad you have things that you’re passionate about, and it’s amazing that you’re able to verbalise it so clearly!

    Liked by 1 person

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